Thursday, September 12, 2013
Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Over a Three-Day Yom Tov
This past Shabbos morning (the third day of the “three day Yomtov”) I was awakened by the sound of the carbon monoxide alarm announcing high levels.
We immediately cleared everyone out of the house and summoned the fire department. When they arrived, they informed me that the cause of the high carbon monoxide levels was due to leaving the stove and oven on over Yomtov and Shabbos.
The buildup of these dangerous fumes was not due to a faulty gas line or leaking appliances, but rather to the lack of adequate ventilation. The constant burning of the gas range and oven - even on a low flame, will over time emit unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. I was told that the fire department was tending to many such call over the last few days.
The firemen implored me to please tell the Rabbis and announce to the community that if people need to leave on the stove or oven over the holidays, then must ensure that the area is properly ventilated. Turning on an exhaust fan or even opening the kitchen window a bit is enough to prevent terrible danger.
I would also like to stress the importance of a carbon monoxide detector. They are not expensive and often come together with the smoke alarm. I would not want to think what our Shabbos would have been like had we not had the alarm- especially since the gas travels upward and the levels upstairs where everyone was sleeping were much higher.
I have been told that in some communities there are public announcements to alert people to take the necessary precautions.