Hearing a loud noise and going to investigate saved the lives of a couple in Paonia, Cynthia Kain and Wes Wright.
Kain was reading at 3 a.m. on Jan. 29, when she heard something heavy falling.
She and Wright live in a spacious two-story house on 4100 Road. When she checked on Wright he was safely asleep. What she didn't realize was that she had heard the boiler explode due to pressure. An intake duct had hit the wall downstairs.
Still sensing that something was wrong, Kain woke Wright. She then heard an alarm beeping downstairs. They both went downstairs and discovered it was the carbon monoxide alarm.
"Immediately my eyes and lungs were burning and it seemed like maybe smoke or haze in the living room," Kain said. "We opened all the windows and turned on fans, looked at the heating system to see if we could find a problem. Intuitively I sensed it had to do with the boiler/heating system and so I turned off the gas and unplugged the electricity to unit. It was difficult to breathe downstairs so we went back up, only to discover that the fumes had now come up through a door we left open."
Kain called 911 and was immediately told that she and Wright needed to leave their home. The Paonia Fire Department was dispatched as well as North Fork Ambulance.
Three volunteer firemen arrived in their own trucks and then eight more came in the fire truck.
"They immediately determined through their meters that downstairs, in rooms that were closed off, the readings were 120 and 60 in the living room I had begun to air out for 30 minutes or so. They said 35 is the reading that sets off the alarm," Kain said.
Wright and Kain by their own admission "were totally ignorant of the dangers of a heating system with exhaust and having these alarms, then knowing what to do when they go off." They had the heating system installed a few months ago, never understanding the danger of carbon monoxide, Kain said.
They declined to go to the hospital that morning, but were examined on site by EMTs. A day and a half later they had blood work after their doctor said they needed to go immediately.
Both Kain and Wright received care at the Delta County Memorial Hospital. They were given extensive blood tests. Blood was taken from their veins and their pulmonary heart arteries.
Wright said that if both of them would have been asleep they could have been dead in 10 minutes.
The Center for Disease Control says the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic a flu. People can have a headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, chest pain and confusion. High levels of carbon monoxide cause death.
Mike Byers, Paonia fire chief, said most carbon monoxide alarms just detect a high level, but don't provide a reading of parts per million. Fifty parts per million is beginning to be a dangerous level and people could feel the effects of the carbon monoxide.
Kain said, "I also want to commend the 911 operator and the Paonia Fire Department volunteers for their unbelievably quick response and thorough actions, as well as the North Fork Ambulance for their services. We are thankful to all of them and such a great community in Paonia."blog comments powered by Disqus