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Akron firefighters respond to 200 carbon monoxide calls per year, appliances often source of trouble

Posted at 4:25 PM, Nov 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 16:54:28-05

Last September, Edwina John felt like she had the flu. Two of her three children complained of headaches and her carbon monoxide detector was alarming inside her Tandy Lane apartment in Akron.

"I had so much pressure on my head. I felt nauseous, dizzy, and it was like I couldn't remember things," John said.

That led to a 911 call. Firefighters found CO levels at 135 parts per million, which explained why the family felt lousy. Firefighters worry when levels hit 35 parts per million.

"I thank God we're still here because it's only because of the grace of God that we are still here, so I pray every night and every morning," John said.

Lt. Sierjie Lash from the Akron Fire Department said the department averages three to five carbon monoxide calls to homes each week — that's about 200 per year. 

In half of the cases, CO detectors are found to be defective and need to be replaced. But in the other half, levels are found that could be toxic.

"You can't see carbon monoxide. You can't taste it. You can't smell it, so to be on the safe side, call the fire department, who has the actual meter," Lash said.

Lash said appliances are often the source of trouble because of CO leaks. Reports generally increase in the colder, winter months.

"Especially if you have gas-powered appliances in your home. You just never know. Anytime there is incomplete combustion or a fire going on, it's putting out carbon monoxide," Lash said.

AFD has a follow-up program which encourages people to replace non-working detectors, or address CO problems coming from furnaces, stoves, or other areas.

On Friday, Lash returned to John's home and checked for carbon monoxide. The meter registered a zero level.

"It was a blessing that they did have the program," John said.

On Wednesday, 34-year-old Megan Keller and her 29-year-old husband, Cody, died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside their home in Washington Township near Mansfield. A family dog was also killed.

Investigators focused on a coal burner as a possible source for extremely high levels of CO.