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Family narrowly escapes home

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Alarm saves mother, four daughters

By Carol A. Clark

Anyone living without carbon monoxide detectors in their home may rethink that decision after reading what happened this weekend to Los Alamos County employee Leslie Bucklin and her four daughters.

Normally the entire family is in bed by 11 p.m., but Sunday night Bucklin and her daughter Lauren, 17, were rearranging furniture on the main floor of their four-story condo as the other children slept upstairs.

They didn’t notice their home filling with carbon monoxide. There was no odor. There were no fumes.

They began to hear a faint alarm-like sound coming from their basement that didn’t sound like a smoke alarm.

As they arrived in the basement, they heard a recording stating their home was registering high carbon monoxide levels. It came from a carbon monoxide detector attached to the wall next to a smoke alarm.

Bucklin and her daughter raced through the house throwing open windows, grabbing the other three children including Amanda, 20, Megan, 12 and Mikala, 8.

The family rushed outside to call 911 — having no idea they had been just about three hours from death, according to officials.

“I’m a Christian and this was a God thing — there is no other explanation for our family being alive today,” Bucklin said during an interview Monday morning.

Firefighters arrived within five minutes, Bucklin said. They got a slight reading on their carbon monoxide meter because various windows and the garage doors had remained opened.

The gas company was called to the scene and they couldn’t get any reading at all, Bucklin said. They closed the garage doors and all the windows in the home and within 10 minutes their meters registered an alarmingly high reading of 22 percent carbon monoxide on the fourth floor of the condo, she said. They shut off the gas and red-tagged the gas meter.

Bucklin suspects her home was filling with carbon monoxide for at least a week prior to that basement detector sounding the alarm. Her daughter Megan woke up seven days ago with a headache and feeling nauseous and each day since she’d wake up feeling ill but the symptoms would subside the longer she was away from the house, Bucklin said.

Other carbon monoxide symptoms include vomiting and lightheadedness, she said.

“I wanted to talk about what happened to my family because it is really important to me to remind the community of the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. I always took them for granted before now,” Bucklin said. “I want to build public awareness, because it is really scary to think I could have lost my whole family if I hadn’t had one, or if the batteries had been out for some reason. It saved our lives and that makes it a pretty important tool in our home. I hope people read our story and check to make sure they have detectors in their home as well.”