CHAMPAIGN – A family of five escaped serious injury early Thursday when a carbon monoxide detector sounded in their apartment in northwest Champaign.
Champaign fire officials said they found dangerously high readings of carbon monoxide in an apartment at the Garden Village Apartments, 2010 N. Mattis Ave., C,
Apartment complex owner Barbara Osuchowski said she installed the carbon monoxide detectors in each of her 163 units about three years ago. She called it a very good investment.
"I did not have to," she said. "We want to save lives and also the owners can benefit financially because of a lower insurance premium."
Deputy Champaign Fire Chief Tim Wild said the detector sounded in the apartment, where parents of three children, including a 10-year-old, 7-year-old and 9-day-old baby were sleeping around 4:15 a.m.
"They called 911 and the fire department came right away," said Osuchowski, who was alerted about 20 minutes later.
The family was removed from the apartment and taken to a hospital to be checked out, then put in another apartment. Osuchowski said to her knowledge, none of them felt ill.
Wild said carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can mimic the flu – headache, achiness, nausea, dizziness, dis-orientation and sleepiness. The gas is odorless, colorless, tasteless and non-irritating but deadly. It is a product of combustion by common household appliances such as furnaces, wood burning stoves, and gas ovens. Car exhaust fumes are also a source of carbon monoxide.
Fire officials said they took readings of 200 parts per million near the furnace.
Wild said anything below 35 parts per million is considered acceptable in a home, but anything above should be a cause for concern. Most newer carbon monoxide detectors give a reading.
In general, humans and animals can be poisoned by small amounts of carbon monoxide over a longer period of time or by larger amounts in minutes.
Osuchowski said she did not know how it happened but learned the furnace flue pipe was knocked over in that apartment.
She said tenants sometimes use the closets where the furnace and water heaters are housed for storage, which they should not do. Each apartment has its own furnace, she said.
"We maintain and check them but you never know what might happen," said Osuchowski, who has owned the complex since 2000.
Fire Chief David Penicook called Osuchowski's decision to install the carbon monoxide detectors a smart one.
"It was expensive, believe me, because they are not cheap," said Osuchowski. "But I'm very happy that I did it."
A new state law becomes effective Jan. 1, mandating that every dwelling unit have at least one working carbon monoxide alarm within 15 feet of each room used for sleeping.