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Timely Visit Spares Blaine Family From CO Poisoning

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) -- After leaving Liberia and starting a family in Minnesota, Jonathan and Princess Smith feel truly blessed.

And now, more than ever, after a very close call with a silent killer.

Growing up in Liberia, Princess Smith says, "we never had warnings about carbon monoxide because we were doing most of our cooking outdoors and we had open windows."

That all changed in the early morning hours of July 8, 2016. That's when a newly installed carbon monoxide detector sounded its shrill alert.

"So we kept telling Mom, 'We need to get out, we need to get out.' She was like, 'Oh, do I really have to do this, I don't want to wake up,'" said Princess Smith.

Her mother was spending the night to help with the couple's four children, ages 12, 8, 6 and a newborn baby. The entire family began feeling the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Spring Lake Park, Blaine and Mounds View firefighter Becky Booker looked at the detector's digital readout.

"It got to 84 parts per million," she said.

But what's so incredibly fortunate is that only two days before the scare the family had a home safety visit from Booker.

She was there to examine and help install new smoke alarms. But that is also when Booker noticed something missing from the home.

"I saw four children, two weeks old and up, and sometimes there's grandparents here. And I noticed looking around that there wasn't a carbon monoxide alarm," said Booker.

Booker and Jonathan Smith worked to install a CO detector on both levels of the family's home. Clearly, it was a life-saving visit because only two days later, 2:30 a.m. on July 8, the sleeping family was jolted awake.

The kitchen stove was leaking carbon monoxide which had built up to a dangerous level hours after Princess Smith had been baking dinner.

The fact that carbon monoxide is a danger throughout the year comes as no surprise to firefighter Booker.

"Any gas appliance is going to put you at risk if it isn't working properly," Booker said.

A firefighter and a family that came together for a very good reason – and a lesson that we can all learn from.

"It's real simple," said Booker, "we've done our job."

A job that is very much appreciated.

"Just thinking about it every day brings tears to my eyes," said Princess Smith.

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