I read with a chilling sadness Dan Alexander's article on a New Jersey man losing his life to a carbon monoxide leak in a home. Sadness for obvious reasons, chilling because this could have been my family. On October 8, 2015 the single family home we were renting in Hillsborough had something go wrong with the furnace in the middle of the night. We were woken by an alarm in the pre-morning blackness. We had just brought our baby Atticus home from the hospital 3 and a half weeks prior, and as I raced to the basement following the alarm in the back of my mind it occurred to me he had slept through the night. Not normal for a baby 26 days old. As I hit the basement stairs through the piercing alarm I could hear the words I’d never forgot, “Warning! Carbon monoxide!”

We all survived, but not without hospital visits for some. If you’d like to read what happened that morning read this story I wrote about it the day after it happened.

Even if you don’t read that, or frankly the rest of this piece, my one true request is for you to please get a CO detector. Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer for a reason. You cannot smell it. You cannot taste it. It can attack you from a bad part in your furnace, your water heater, your kitchen appliances; so many ways. Often by the time you realize something is wrong you may be too confused and too exhausted to get out of the house. Or if it strikes at night often you will just never wake up. Possibly worse, it can kill some family members and spare others. Imagine having to live with that guilt. Prices vary but you can easily buy one for $20 or less. Then the only ongoing cost is simple batteries, which you must remember to change. The day you reset the clocks is a great way to remember.

If we did not have one of these, I have no doubt my baby and my wife would be dead. If we didn’t have a CO detector that night, I would have been arranging a double funeral involving something no one should ever have to purchase; one miniature casket. I never would have celebrated Atticus’ first Christmas. I never would have met his younger brother Cooper in March of 2017. Nor would I have celebrated our first wedding anniversary with my wife Aubree. I never would have bought the home in Raritan Township. Painted all those rooms. Dreamed of days to come.

I never would have danced with my wife again, not at Courtney’s wedding, or at Freddie’s or in our kitchen as the kids laugh at us. I never would have taken her to that embarrassing Mets loss or that magnificent Jets win. We never would have taken the kids to Great Wolf Lodge. I never would have seen Atti’s reaction to his first snowfall. Or hear him say Daddy for this first time.

Of course it could have killed all of us. In which case I’d have been better off than trying to live without Aubree. But Jack and Mina never would have had their first kiss, their first scary day of college or their triumphant day of graduation. Mina never would have gotten back into dance. Jack never would have played trumpet or written a book. They never would have fallen in love, or had children of their own.

My point in all this is that any one of these things is worth the $20 you’ll spend on a CO detector, to stop carbon monoxide from silently taking each and every one of these things from you.

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