LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- While school officials say carbon monoxide detectors are not required inside the classrooms, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue says homes should have them.
Fire officials say your chances of having high levels of carbon monoxide in your home are greater than having an actual fire.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion or flames, so that includes candles, fireplaces, and your stove.
They call it the silent killer because it's odorless and tasteless. Las Vegan Shirlee Harris wants to use her recent scare to help others.
“I do believe (the carbon monoxide detector) saved me and my grandson's life,” she said.
On early Thanksgiving morning, Harris went to sleep after a long night of cooking.
“I just got custody of one of my grandkids, so I wanted to cook a spectacular Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.
She then heard her alarm go off.
“I was asleep, and I heard, ‘Bing-bing-bing,’ and I knew to get up,” she said. “I was so delirious I called 3-1-1 first instead of 9-1-1.”
She got out, and as it turns out, she and her grandson had to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tim Szymanski of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue says fire crews responding to high levels of carbon monoxide in homes is not uncommon in Nevada, particularly during the holidays when families are cooking for long periods of time, and especially when windows or doors aren’t open to let in fresh air.
He's seen over the years how deadly the poisonous gas can be.
“One gentlemen was coming out of the shower and drying himself,” he said. “He fell to the floor. His family was downstairs watching TV. We found them on a couch. They were all dead. They did not have a clue that anything was wrong in the home.”
The clue would only come from a carbon monoxide detector, which Harris's property management had installed into all of their apartments.
Harris says it saved her family, and she's learned an important lesson.
“When you're cooking, always crack a window or a door to let some air in,” she said.
A carbon monoxide detector is separate from a smoke detector. Make sure you have both.