Thomas Warren, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - After five people were killed last month by carbon monoxide poisoning in their Oxon Hill home, the Prince George's County Fire Department has been flooded with donations of alarms to detect the deadly gas.
"We have several hundred on hand now ready to provide to our citizens and residents," says fire spokesman Mark Brady.
Detector manufacturer Kidde and First Alert, as well as Pepco, has donated 200 alarms. A hundred more were donated by an anonymous group, and the company 1-800-Board-Up donated another 25.
Brady says the alarms will be distributed to residents who do not currently have one for free.
"You don't have to worry about the cost of it," Brady says. "Because of the donations, these alarms and detectors are being provided to you free of charge."
While a normal carbon reading is 0 to 5 parts per million, the level detected by firefighters in the home of the Oxon Hill accident was 550 parts per million. The home was found to have a malfunctioning furnace and ventilation system.
Tragedies like that are why Brady is stressing everyone in the community take advantage of the program.
"You can't smell it, you can't see it, you can't taste it, you can't hear it," he says. "It defies all of your senses."
In 2011, the fire department responded to nearly 1,100 reports of carbon monoxide alarm activations. Nearly 90 of them had significant leaks.
Brady says a hotline has been set up for residents to call to inquire about getting an alarm. The number is 301-864-7233.
He says a firefighter will take your info and pass it to the fire station closest to you.
"They'll work out a convenient time to come by to install the CO alarm for you, and demonstrate how to test it once a month, and change the batteries once a year," Brady says.
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