Safely Heating Homes

Scary moments played out inside an Omaha home as a man called for rescue crews because of an unrelated incident, only to find out his house was full of carbon monoxide. The source was a leaking furnace.

It's been an unseasonably warm fall, but only within the past few weeks it seems many have needed to kick on the heat. But as families across the metro reach for the thermostat, maintaining the furnace can go a long way in staying safe and warm.

Rescue crews arrived at a home near 84th and Dodge Tuesday morning because the homeowner made the call after he had fallen. Once inside, first responders made a surprising discovery, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Omaha Fire Department spokesman Tim McCaw tells Channel 6 News a service repairman had been working on the man's furnace Monday, but could not make an immediate fix. Radio reports at the scene revealed the carbon monoxide detector had been disabled sometime along the way.

Although alert and awake, the man was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center where he was listed in fair condition on Wednesday.

Investigators determined a carbon monoxide leak was emitting from a crack in the furnace. MUD tagged and cut service to it. A new CO detector was installed.

While not involved with the situation, Aksarben Heating and Air Furnace technician Mike Sheard said things like that can easily happen. “We are seeing people who don't do regular maintenance on their system, we are getting emergency phone calls and the need for that regular maintenance right now is just so huge."

Sheard also said it’s important to turn to a licensed professional when fixing, repairing and maintaining a furnace. "We are going to make sure we do a dye test, a UV dye test on a heat exchanger, we are going to make sure there is no potential that if it has a crack, it won't leak CO into your home."

Carbon monoxide detectors can be a lifesaver if used correctly. Users should read the instructions on the back label, which explains what each beep or alert means. Alerts can range from an actual emergency to dead batteries to replacing the unit entirely.

Safety experts said where the detectors are placed is also important. They need to be within hearing range while sleeping and place them near and not directly on appliances.

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