I write this after just having left the funeral home to pay my respects to the family of Mrs. Mary Ringley, a Wyckoff resident who of an accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. I use her name with the permission of the family who I have known since I was a teenager.
She died after mistakenly leaving her car running in the attached garage after arriving home. Her house was filled with CO gas at more than 30 times the toxic levels. We’ll never know exactly why this happened as it did, but what is clear is that it was not done on purpose. She, as well as her beloved dog, were victims of an accidental exposure to a dangerous gas that kills.
In my conversations with her sons, they agreed with me that the biggest mistake that can happen after any tragic situation is that we don’t learn from it in some way.
Their Mom died because her home was not equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.
A CO detector can be purchased for anywhere between $20 and $50. They come both battery and AC powered, and will give off an audible alarm when dangerous levels of the colorless, tasteless and odorless gas are present in a home. Such a device allows the resident to take some action before the concentration of carbon monoxide reaches an even more dangerous or fatal level.
This is especially important as most people do not even realize that they are being poisoned by the gas until it renders them unconscious. Lower level concentrations over extended periods of time can cause long term effects including brain damage.
Malfunctioning fuel burning devices such as home heating systems, water heaters, fireplaces and space heaters can create dangerous CO levels. Gas generators placed too close to a home during a power outage can also raise carbon monoxide levels unsafely.
The frequently cautions residents to have working smoke alarms and CO detector alarms. Now a Wyckoff family that has lost their mother to this accident is hoping that residents learn from this tragedy so that it does not happen to anyone again.
Chief Benjamin Fox