Everybody is aware by now of the importance (and legal necessity) of having smoke alarms in their homes – and we’ve heard those amazing stories of dogs (and even cats) who awaken their sleeping owners when they smell smoke in the house where smoke detectors are absent or they are not working because of dead batteries.
However, most of us are less aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning in a house, which a pet cannot alert you to because it is an odorless deadly gas that comes from malfunctioning water heaters and similar equipment (or car exhaust fumes, which can accumulate quickly in a closed garage where a car is left running).
Not only do pets have no way to alert to CO2 danger, but they (and small children) are the most susceptible to its deadly effect because their bodies are so much smaller than those of adults and succumb more quickly to the deadly gas. The danger can increase in winter in cold climates where all windows are tightly closed.
Fire departments and other authorities regularly remind renters and homeowners to have carbon monoxide detectors in working order on every level of their homes – and their garage – but many people remain unaware of this common, avoidable danger.
I recall when I was a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for many years that our training emphasized that in cases of suspected CO2 poisoning that we were forbidden to enter a dwelling without a protective mask because we could be felled ourselves; even in the time it would take us to extract a victim.
I was reminded of this important safety precaution of having working CO2 monitors throughout a home when I read about a recent carbon monoxide poisoning incident that left a Maryland woman fighting for her life and her dog dead, “Woman seriously hurt, dog dead due to carbon monoxide poisoning”. The woman’s daughter found her mother unconscious in the home just in time, according to fire officials, but it was too late for the family pet.
Please remember that an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold – for your two-legged and four-legged family members.
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.
She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.