Catching Silent Killers: Monica's Story

At first glance, Monica’s home on the southeast side of Grand Rapids appeared to be in great shape.

“Monica called us because she was concerned about lead in her home, but when we got there we could tell that almost all of the paint was in very good shape and there were basically no other safety hazards for children,” said Kyle Shutz, Community Health Educator at the Healthy Homes Coalition. “Monica keeps her home very child friendly.”

What couldn’t be seen was the carbon monoxide pouring out of Monica’s oven. As a part of the Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids program, Kyle did a routine inspection of all the gas burning appliances in the home and found that Monica’s oven was putting out excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, a silent killer. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, but high exposures can lead to sickness and even death.

Monica promptly called DTE. The utility came out and inspected the appliance and confirmed that high levels of carbon monoxide were coming from the oven, recommending that it be replaced. After this ordeal, Monica expressed how shocked and worried she was for her three children. Monica immediately contacted the landlord who quickly had the malfunctioning appliance replaced.

“I knew that carbon monoxide could be dangerous, but Kyle told me more about how the C.O. could reach different levels,” explained Monica. “I feel a lot more comfortable in the house and I’m ready to bake. Now, I know what signs to look for out for.”

As part of every home visit, the Healthy Homes Coalition takes carbon monoxide readings around all fuel-burning appliances. Every month, Healthy Homes uncovers a couple more malfunctioning devices. Every month, more silent killers are caught.