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Greenwich Family Survives Carbon Monoxide Scare

Greenwich FD: 2 parents, 5 children 'very lucky' to be alive after home filled with high carbon monoxide levels.

A family of seven is "very lucky" after one of them woke up early Monday not feeling well.

It turned out that the unidentified family's home had filled with extremely high levels of carbon monoxide apparently created by a gas boiler malfunction, according to Acting Marshal James McDonald. "Someone woke up not feeling well and as the rest of them woke up they realized something was wrong and someone called 911," McDonald said. The family lives at 222 Valley Rd. in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich.

The parents and their 5 children—all school-aged—were treated and released from Greenwich Hospital following the 4:38 a.m. incident. Greenwich Emergency Medical Service Executive Director Charlee Tufts said all 7 were evaluated at the scene and taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

McDonald said carbon monoxide readings "were above 600 parts per million. Generally, if it goes above 10 parts, we start looking for why. At 35 to 40 parts, it's a real serious problem." He added, "It was caused by a boiler problem. Something malfunctioned in the boiler and it emitted the carbon monoxide."

The carbon monoxide detector in the family's home also "was not working at the time. I don't know whether it was at the end of its life,"  McDonald said."They are buying a new detector today," he added.

McDonald stressed the importance of carbon monoxide alarms. "You should the alarms if you have anything that burns, anything that has a flame—a gas stove, a gas furnace, a gas boiler or water heater—anything that burns creates carbon monoxide," McDonald explained.

He added, "You can't predict when something will malfunction. At least once a week, you should push the button on them to make sure they're working properly. They are very sensitive and detect the slightest amounts of carbon monoxide."

According to alarm manufacturer First Alert's website, "After 5 years any detector should be replaced with a new CO Alarm. Alarms may have an actual life span that is shorter due to environmental conditions and may need to be replaced sooner."

McDonald said the family is "very lucky."

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