Family Safe Thanks To Early Detection From Basement Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Incident Type
Carbon Monoxide
Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 12:11pm
Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 12:18pm
1500 Block Drake Street
Madison, WI

A carbon monoxide leak peaking at 2000 ppm in a near west side home was the result of a faulty hot water heater.

The Madison Fire Department responded to a residence on Drake Street after a basement carbon monoxide (CO) alarm activated. Two children were asleep upstairs at the time, and an adult occupant called 911.

The home was evacuated as Engine Co. 4 detected CO levels at 200 ppm upon entering the main level. Firefighters opened doors to encourage air flow as they made their way to the basement, where CO levels topped off at 2000 ppm. Levels on the second floor, where the children had been sleeping, were in the 100s ppm.

Some of the occupants reported feeling symptoms of illness at the time of the 911 call but none required EMS after evacuating the home. MGE responded, and the water heater was shut down. Firefighters ventilated the house to clear out the carbon monoxide, and the occupants were able to return.


Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

What should you do if the CO detector alarm sounds?
First of all, never ignore an alarm and do not panic! Although exposure to high levels of CO over prolonged periods of time can be life-threatening, a large number of instances that activate the CO alarm are not life-threatening and do not require calling 911. To determine the need to call 911, ask the following question to everyone in the household.
Are you feeling sick and/or experiencing the "flu-like" symptoms of dizziness, nausea, or headaches?
If Yes: Immediately evacuate the household to a safe location and call 911. The best initial treatment for CO exposure is fresh air followed by treatment from a physician.
If No: The likelihood of a serious exposure is greatly reduced and calling 911 is not necessary at this time. Instead, turn off any gas appliances or equipment and open doors and windows to help ventilate your home with fresh air from outside. After completing this, occupants are urged to contact your local gas utility company (e.g., MG&E  at (608) 252-1111) or a qualified heating and ventilating service contractor to inspect your system for possible problems. Note: If at any time during this process someone in your household experiences "flu-like" symptoms, immediately evacuate the home and call 911.

Posted 02/21/2020 - 7:21am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)