"And we have had people who have been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning," He added.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas produced any time a fuel is burned. It is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S. Even non-fatal exposure can cause damage to the heart and central nervous system.
As Jaquish explained, the effects of carbon monoxide are cumulative and can develop to poisonous levels over long periods of time. At high concentrations, however, it can become fatal in a matter of minutes.
"It's an oxygen theif," Jaquish said. "It steals oxygen from your blood."
While carbon monoxide is a danger for any home that burns wood or fossil fuels, Jaquish estimates less than half the homes in Essex County have a carbon monoxide detector installed.
"A lot of people do the smoke alarms," he said, "but they don't bother with a carbon monoxide detector."
Fortunately, Jaquish said, most fire departments in Essex County have their own carbon monoxide detecting equipment, some of which also track other harmful gasses. In most cases, they can use those sensors to determine the source of the gas.
In many cases, he said, it is determined to be a false alarm resulting from a defective carbon monoxide detector.
"So you want to be sure to buy one that has a good consumer rating," Jaquish said.
Carbon monoxide detectors generally range in price from $20 to $50, depending on what other features they offer. Most recommend replacement every five years.
"Sometimes a law is in place to force people into safe behaviors," said Jaquish, "but in all cases, it's up to the person to decide the safe thing to do."