LAWRENCE, Kansas – October 31, 2017 —Greg Slaven, his wife, Wrenn, and their two young grandchildren couldn’t be awoken from their sleep.
They all slept through the ringing of their phones from a carbon monoxide notification service and through the Cimarron, Kansas, Volunteer Fire Department pounding on their front door.
The Slaven family had been exposed to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide.
“We were feeling unusually tired, and I was even feeling light-headed,” said Wrenn Slaven. “What we didn’t know was that carbon monoxide was seeping from a faulty water heater in the basement and permeating the house.”
In addition to serving as a leak technician in Dodge City, Lyn Wright is also a volunteer firefighter for the Cimarron Volunteer Fire Department. Wright was the first responder on scene, and he recalls hearing the dog barking. He knew it was important to get inside the home immediately to get the family to safety.
“When it comes to children and carbon monoxide, they’re more susceptible to CO because they’re smaller, so it saturates the blood quicker,” Wright said. “Cimarron is a small town. … These are our friends, these are our neighbors. It’s a sigh of relief to be able to see the Slaven family on the streets every day.”
For Black Hills Energy employees, providing safe, reliable energy is our biggest priority. Simple steps in an annual maintenance routine — like adding or checking batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and having the vent swept — are proactive measures you can take that could save lives.
“Natural gas is a clean, safe fuel that keeps more than 70 million homes and business warm,” said Jerry Watkins, general manager of Kansas operations for Black Hills Energy. “But it’s vital to make sure that systems that keep you warm and safe in your home are inspected by professionals.”
As the weather keeps getting colder, here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Hire a certified professional to perform an annual heating system inspection.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors and have them inspected regularly. That includes making sure their batteries are fresh.
- Watch for signs of a carbon monoxide leak that can include:
- Flu-like symptoms, including a scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, drowsiness or nausea
- Frosted windows because of excessive humidity or a draft from the front of the furnace when it is not turned on
If you think you have a carbon monoxide leak, get out of your home immediately. Once you’re safe, call 911 or Black Hills Energy’s emergency service line — 800-694-8989 — from your cell phone or nearby location.