Newly installed carbon monoxide detector likely saved family
BRAINERD, Minn. - This holiday season, Brenda Jonak is thankful her daughter and her family are alive. "I would probably be planning funerals instead of buying Christmas presents. No words can express the gratitude I feel," she wrote in a letter ...
BRAINERD, Minn. – This holiday season, Brenda Jonak is thankful her daughter and her family are alive.
“I would probably be planning funerals instead of buying Christmas presents. No words can express the gratitude I feel,” she wrote in a letter to the city, thanking them for actions taken by a city rental inspector who demanded their landlord put in a carbon monoxide detector.
It all started with a boisterous alarm in the home of her adult daughter, Toni Jonak. It was about 1:30 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving.
Toni Jonak shot up in bed.
It was coming from the family’s new detector, which was just placed there a few months prior, after that city inspector told the family’s landlord that one must be put in immediately.
The unique beeping was alarming. Neither Toni Jonak nor her fiancé, Andrew Fiebelkorn, had heard a detector go off before, though both grew up with them in their houses.
Still half asleep, Toni Jonak woke up Fiebelkorn and the couple shuffled outside the room of son Anthony Jonak, 6, where the detector was sounding.
A red light flashed, indicating they should get to fresh air.
“I went into mom mode,” Toni Jonak said.
She rushed to get her son dressed and out to the car. Still, Fiebelkorn wasn’t quite convinced it wasn’t just a low battery that caused it to go off. If he moved the detector farther away, it was quieter.
The couple debated for a few minutes, with Toni Jonak and her son outside and Fiebelkorn talking to her through the screen door about whether to evacuate the house.
It was the constant light flashing that ultimately convinced Fiebelkorn to err on the side of caution and leave the house.
The family drove to the nearby home of Jonak’s mother, Brenda, to drop off Anthony. They called the Brainerd Fire Department and met responders at their house.
It was a good thing they left, Jonak said. The CO levels measured high enough that the occurrence likely would’ve left one, if not all, dead, she said.
The CO was at dangerous levels near the furnace room. It was likely caused during a furnace inspection a few months ago, Jonak said. It was left turned up all the way, so it was working double what it should have.
Despite the scare, Fiebelkorn says his family is lucky.
Lucky that the detector was put in just a couple of months prior and lucky that Jonak’s sister, whose room is right next to the furnace room, was out of town that night. Jonak is convinced had she been home, she would’ve had the highest exposure.
Since that night, the family has become a solid vocal supporter for CO detectors. When Jonak visits friends, she’ll make sure they have a detector and that the batteries are working.
Extended family have all checked their detectors and even added them in the fish house.
It’s worth the $20 or so to buy a detector, Jonak said.
“Don’t chance it.”