Deaths serve as warning for correct use CO detectors

Funerals will be held tomorrow for two members of the same Chicago family whose lives were taken by carbon monoxide.

Family and friends gathered with the family of 77-year-old Rasheeda Akhter and 18-year-old Zanib Ahmed to mourn their loss.  An autopsy confirms they were victims of long-term exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide.

Friends of the teen, who planned to study medicine at Northwestern, can’t believe she’s gone.

“She was just an amazing friend,” said Nayaab Ahmed.

The deaths were confusing at first, because although the initial symptoms were consistent with c-o poisoning, the first readings taken by Chicago Fire Dept were very low.

“Keep in mind that CO poisoning is cumulative.  It adds up. So you get a little here a little there, it keeps adding up, said assistant deputy fire commissioner Mark Nielsen.

The city requires one working CO detector on every floor with a bedroom.co-leak-death

Chicago fire officials says there was one detector that appeared to be working, but did not go off.  It was kept near the boiler and a window that was often left open. In short, exactly the wrong place.

“Sadly, that’s where people think it should go, by the furnace, but it’s not,” said Gigi Lubin of First Alert, a Chicagoland-based company that makes CO detectors. “It needs to go near your sleeping area, because if you’re asleep, you want it to wake you up.”

Along with being in the right place, they have to be regularly checked and replaced.

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