Warning about Carbon Monoxide

I just wanted to give all the Mamas a warning about a potentially very dangerous situation that I learned about the tough way- TWICE!

In 2007, we had a gas leak in our apartment that resulted in dangerous carbon monoxide being released into our home. My two-year daughter woke up in the middle of the night on the Friday vomiting. I also had a persistent splitting headache for much of the weekend. My husband felt dizzy one night. Though we didn’t put the pieces together to know there was a CO problem, thankfully we had been keeping our windows open since we like the breeze.

Otherwise we could have gotten much sicker…or worse. On Sunday night our CO detector went off (though at the time we blamed the smoky Shanghai air since it was during the time when the farmers in the provinces burn the field). On Monday, I called the gas company to rule out a gas leak- but instead they confirmed this was the problem.

The gas guy told me that it was a product default since there was a small hole in the pipe that connects at the meter. He says that it’s a common problem that he sees several times a week all over Shanghai. We did not smell gas or hear any hissing of a leak so there was no indication that could have given us any warning of the problem.

Flash forward two and a half years, and the SAME THING happens again in a different home! This time Ayi and I both had a splitting headache and we detected the slight smell of gas in our kitchen. We opened all the windows in our home and called the gas company. Again, they confirmed there was a hole in the pipe that connects at the meter that was causing a small amount of gas to leak.

If your home does not have one, head to B&Q and buy a CO detector (yi1 yang3 hua4 tan4). They are inexpensive and can save your life. I also learned that it’s better for the detector to be lower to the ground since CO is a heavy gas that hovers low. We had a combo smoke/CO detector that was late in alerting us to the problem since our landlord placed it high on the wall to detect smoke.

CO Safety tips:
• Even though the commercially available detectors are not always 100% accurate, they will usually give you enough warning of a problem so it is worth investing in one.
• Detectors don’t go off for false alarms so take action if it gives the alert.
• If you suspect a problem, open all the windows and call the gas company at 962777 and they will send someone to inspect ASAP. Both times we have called them, they have had somebody to our home within 20 minute

4 responses to “Warning about Carbon Monoxide

  1. Thanks for that Melanie – I had already planned on bringing one to Shanghai. There was an awful case of 2 children dying in Greece recently here in the UK due to a leak in their holiday apartment. Horrible.

  2. I had the same problem in our brand new house on Regency Park. Huge disappointment and led to weeks of worry and days of repairs to the flue.

    Difficult to convince mgmt and landlord how lethal this is. Could not get CO alarms from B&Q though, they don’t even sell smoke alarms! Try taobao.com.

  3. Great information. I did not realize the CO detector should be placed low to the ground. Thanks.

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