Carbon monoxide alarm helps save Kent family

A new law requiring carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in all multifamily dwellings beginning this year has paid off for at least one Kent family.

At 5:17 a.m. on Thursday, March 7, a family was awakened by the sound of their CO alarm activating in their Lake Fenwick Estates apartment in the 25000 block of 45th Place South, according to a Kent Fire Department media release. The family immediately evacuated their residence and called 911.

When Kent firefighters arrived, a multi-gas detector that is carried on all Kent fire engines was used to check for CO. The meter showed high levels of carbon monoxide in the home. A search found that a closed fireplace flue had forced CO into the apartment. The family had thought the fire was out and had closed the flue to reduce cold air drafts.

Smoldering fires produce high levels of CO, which is a product of incomplete combustion. The apartment complex management had installed the CO detectors at the beginning of the year in all of the apartments and had also upgraded the level of smoke alarms.

Once the source of the CO was discovered, the firefighters quickly vented out the gas, opened the flue to let any remaining CO escape, and allowed the family to return to their home.

None of the five people in the apartment suffered any adverse effects from the CO, which can cause nausea, headaches, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death.

The Legislature passed a law requiring CO alarms in all new residences beginning in 2012 and all existing ones in 2013. While the law was prompted by the many cases of barbecues and gas-powered generators being brought into homes during power outages, more “every day” devices can also pose a potential hazard to residents as well.

The Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority stated in its release that it would like to recognize and thank the management of Lake Fenwick Estates for following state law and protecting their residents.

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