New partnership: Milwaukee Fire Dept. on a mission to prevent carbon monoxide deaths

MILWAUKEE -- It is a killer that you cannot see coming -- and it could be in your home. Now a new partnership is helping to keep families like yours safe.

It started just like any other winter night at a home in Milwaukee.

John Schwengel, Battalion Chief of the Milwaukee Fire Department

"They didn't even know that they had an issue in the home. They all went to bed that evening and were exposed during the night," said John Schwengel, battalion chief of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

The February night ended tragically for the family that lived there.

"Some of the family members fell ill and unfortunately one of them lost their life," Schwengel said.

While they slept, a silent killer entered the home -- and claimed the life of a 53-year-old woman.

"One of the kind of the scary things about carbon monoxide is initially you'll just feel like you're getting the flu. You'll feel a little lethargic, you'll have a headache, you might feel nauseous," Schwengel said.

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that you cannot detect on your own. Its sources are likely all over your home -- from gas stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, gas dryers and even car exhaust.

"If they're not maintained properly, if they're not vented properly, they can leak carbon monoxide into the home," said Schwengel.

The Milwaukee Fire Department wants to prevent more tragedies like this one -- and so it is now partnering with First Alert and the organization Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee. Their mission -- to give away 200 carbon monoxide detectors and remind residents to make sure they have a working carbon monoxide alarm in their home.

Gigi Lubin of First Alert

"If you can only put up one carbon monoxide alarm in your home, put it near your sleeping area so it will wake you up and let you know that you've got carbon monoxide in your home and not the flu," said Gigi Lubin of First Alert.

Multi-family dwellings in Wisconsin are required to have carbon monoxide detectors. Talk to the property owner if you do not already have a working one. If you life in a single family home, it is not required. But fire officials hope you will make the choice to purchase one and protect your family.