Elizabeth Bryan: My Family Survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
4 mins read

Elizabeth Bryan: My Family Survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Bryan, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Count Your Blessings.

My name is Elizabeth Bryan and I like to think of myself as a “mom-with-a-mission” – usually that means creating product that improves lives and gives back in some way.  I never thought that would also include advocating for carbon monoxide poisoning awareness, but then again, I never thought my family would be victims of something so terrifying.

Becoming a mom and learning to parent can be magnificent, miraculous and completely overwhelming, all at once.  From feeding and sleeping to carpools and college, there are so many new things to worry about when we look down at the precious, helpless little beings that we brought into the world.

Thankfully, most of the time our worries are imagined, based in unfounded stories created in our own overactive, exhausted mommy minds.   Unlike being poisoned by carbon monoxide, which is a real threat – I know, because it happened to my entire family.

It was a freezing cold Manhattan winter and my son was just six-months-old.  We were holed up inside with all the windows tightly sealed and the furnaces fully cranked up.  My fourteen-year-old stepson left for school each day, and my husband for a full day’s work.  I thought I was coming down with the flu, the baby was sleeping way more than normal, and my teenager was complaining of headaches and nausea. I carted us all off to the doctor who confirmed that we were likely coming down with some strain of something, sending us straight back to our sealed up home for some rest.  It wasn’t until about a week later when I meandered down to the basement and had the shock of my life – our CO detector was hanging from its wires, completely disengaged from the ceiling.

Grabbing a ladder, I plugged it back in – the searing beeps were deafening and terrifying, and I immediately got myself and the kids outside for fresh air.  When the gas company arrived, they confirmed what I already knew – the hot water heater was malfunctioning and giving off CO.  It was rising to the upper floors, poisoning all of us.  Anyone in the basement for any length of time would have already been dead.  We were so fortunate, unlike so many others who tragically die and are hospitalized each year.  When installing detectors recently became the law in California, I began working with First Alert by sharing my story.

Once I got really into it, I learned about the multiple sources of CO that we are potentially exposed to on a daily basis.  From the dryer to the stove to the heater, the risks are many, and year-round.  It occurred to me that there while there are so many things out of our control in this life, dying from CO is not one of them.

As women and moms, we are empowered when we protect ourselves and our loved ones as best we can. Since detectors can be purchased at Lowe’s or Target or Sears or ACE for as little as $19.99, it might just be the easiest, most inexpensive way to protect ourselves, especially during the holidays when the risks of accidental poisoning increase because everyone is in one home, all sealed up with many fuel burning appliances being used at the same time.

Every human being on this planet, including you, has purpose and is capable of greatness. Each one of us impacts others in some way, big or small.   I am grateful to be alive to share my story, with the hope that you will take every measure to keep your family safe, by purchasing at least one carbon monoxide detector to put outside your sleeping area.  That action in itself is changing the world – you never know the impact your life or your children’s will have on others, just like I never imagined how mine could possibly help you.  Don’t wait – buy a CO detector today!

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your important message, and for inspiring us to keep our family safe by putting a carbon monoxide detector in our home!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments