BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — A few days after Thanksgiving, the Saifees and their extended family of 12 were all sleeping under the name roof when a blaring alarm went off at 6:20 a.m. The Bernards Township Police Chief happened to get the call, as officers were in the midst of a shift change. When he showed up at their door, he quickly realized there was a problem.
"I was afraid someone could have been dead somewhere in the house,” Chief Brian Bobowicz said, “because of the holiday celebration, they had family members sleeping all around the house. And my thought went actually to the basement, where there was a possibility that your not gonna have the same ventilation.”
Carbon monoxide had been building up inside the home overnight. The odorless, invisible and potentially deadly gas triggered the family’s ADT alarm, which prompted an automatic call to police.
“Thank goodness, thank goodness,” praised Madhvi Saifee, "thank goodness we have ADT. Thank goodness that they responded so quickly, because some of the levels were pretty high.”
When firefighters arrived, they confirmed that the house had reached dangerous levels and the family was quickly evacuated. The Saifee’s 11-year-old daughter complained of a headache and was checked out by EMTs, but all were ultimately determined to be okay.
“It’s important that residents do have working fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home,” Liberty Corner Fire Chief Peter Aprahamian said, "Particularly near the sleeping quarters, and that they change their batteries.”
The Saifee’s carbon monoxide leak was likely caused by a gas powered furnace or water heater in the basement. But the CDC also warns of leaks from fireplaces, grills, power washers, gas-generators, stoves or heaters. Every year, over 20,000 Americans are sent to the emergency room and roughly 400 die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
For their life-saving action, the Liberty Corner Fire Department, First Aid Squad and Bernards Township Police Department were each awarded a $5,000 grant from ADT today. The fire chief plans to spend their share of the money on carbon monoxide detectors for other residents in town.