Sam Okun says he could have sworn he turned off his keyless Lexus after parking it in his garage.
"In fact, I was absolutely sure I did," said Okun, 82, as he sat in his suburban Boynton Beach home Monday morning.
On Nov. 10, Okun, his 6-year-old grandson Hunter, and his significant other Arlene Schwartz came home about 7:30 p.m. after having dinner with Hunter's mother. Hunter was tucked into his bed about 9 p.m., and Schwartz went to sleep around midnight. A half hour later, as Okun sat at his computer, the carbon monoxide detector alarm sounded.
"The big thing is that everything is ok," Schwartz, 84, said.
Were it not for the carbon monoxide detector, things wouldn't have been, said Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Don DeLucia.
"These people didn't get sick because the detector went off before it got to that point," DeLucia said. "It did what it was supposed to do."
So far this year, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews have responded to eight calls about carbon monoxide poisoning where residents needed medical attention. That includes the call from Okun's home and another call last week from from a house less than five miles away. Last year, fire rescue crews responded to 11 calls.
Last week's call came in just after midnight on Thanksgiving from the Venetian Isles complex in suburban Boynton Beach. The detector went off in the home of Irwin Jacobs, 84, and his 73-year-old wife Sheilah. Investigators determined that their car had been running in the garage since 8 p.m. the night before.
"I already had gone to bed and that's when it went off," Sheilah Jacobs said. "I would have gone to sleep and probably would never have awakened."
The couple bought their detector in 2009 after their neighbor died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keyless cars, like Okun's, in some cases are the source of the carbon monoxide. "It is easier to leave that type of vehicle running," DeLucia said.
Okun said he doesn't hear the motor when his car is running.
Once the alarm sounded, Schwartz grabbed Hunter and led him out of the house. Okun ran into the garage to turn the car off. Schwartz then ran back into the house to call 911.
DeLucia said they should not have gone back into the house or the garage. Instead, they should have gone to a neighbor's. When Schwartz and Okun were checked at Bethesda Memorial Hospital, doctors found carbon monoxide in their blood, but not in Hunter's.
Okun and Schwartz call the scare a "wake up call," and have recommended to others that they buy a carbon monoxide detector.
Their neighbor, 86-year-old Rose Needleman, doesn't have one yet.
"I never thought of it," she said while in Okun's and Schwartz's home.
"Get it today," Schwartz said firmly. "All you do is plug it in."