FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – A 4-month-old kitten saved a Farmington Hills couple and their two children from carbon monoxide that was silently spreading through their home in the middle of the night.
On Aug. 30, the home of Heidi and Ronald Stamper lost power due to a storm, so they used a portable generator in their garage to keep some of their appliances running.
Before the couple and their two children — 13-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Quinn — went to sleep, the garage door accidentally got closed while the generator was on.
As a result, the family became exposed to deadly carbon monoxide gas while they slept, officials said.
“The fire department reminds everyone that generators should never be used inside homes, garages, basements, sheds, or any other enclosed or partially enclosed spaces,” Farmington Hills fire Chief Jon Unruh said. “In this case, using a portable generator in an enclosed garage almost had deadly consequences.”
Carbon monoxide has no taste, smell, or color, so it’s impossible for the human senses to detect. But it can build up quickly and linger for hours, even after generators have been turned off.
During the night, the family’s kitten, Thor, woke up Heidi with a loud cry, officials said. The cat was visibly sick, so she took him outside.
Thor’s condition improved outside, but when Heidi brought him back in, she lost consciousness, according to authorities.
Thor continued screeching, which woke up Paige and Quinn. The children got their semi-conscious parents out of the house, officials said.
Farmington Hills firefighters were called to the home and took the family to Beaumont Hospital. Heidi and the two children were flown to ProMedica Hospital in Toledo because their conditions needed specialized care, firefighters said.
All four family members survived, and Thor is being credited with saving their lives.
The Stampers want their story to be a warning to others, so they’re helping the fire department spread the word about the dangers of portable generators.
“This is a frightening example of how carbon monoxide can accumulate quickly and potentially be fatal,” Unruh said. “Fortunately, this incident had a positive ending, but we hope all families will learn from the Stampers and keep their generators outside.”
Officials said the home did not have any carbon monoxide detectors at the time of the incident. Since then, the Stampers and all of their neighbors have had carbon monoxide detectors installed.
Any Farmington Hills residents who need help buying or installing carbon monoxide alarms can call the fire department at 248-871-2800.
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