Woman who lost 5 family members to carbon monoxide giving away free detectors

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston native is on a mission to save people from carbon monoxide poisoning after losing five of her family members.

"I don't want anybody to go through what I went through," said Sheletta Brundidge.

Her relatives, which include two uncles, an aunt, cousin and her cousin's husband, were hunkered down after Hurricane Delta hit Lake Charles in October 2020. The family lost power and hooked up a generator in their garage.

"I don't think words can describe five caskets at the front of a church," she said.

Since then, she has partnered with First Alert, a group that sends out more than 100 free carbon monoxide detectors across the country.

"I don't mind paying for the postage if it can save you and your family's life," she said.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it and it can kill you while you sleep. It is a by-product of burning fuel, such as gas or wood, and can get into your home from a fire place, gas stove or oven, gas water heater, or a misplaced generator.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, and confusion, along with feeling dizzy or sleepy.

Dr. Chris Langan, the regional chief medical officer for Memorial Hermann Hospital, said every winter, CO cases pick up in Houston.

"One of the key things is if someone is getting a headache or a group of people is getting a cluster of headaches ... sometimes even on the second floor of an apartment building because carbon monoxide rises and that's usually a clue that there could be an issue," he said.

Langan said if your carbon monoxide detector goes off, you should immediately evacuate and go outside for fresh air. Do not spend time investigating a possible leak.

Local fire departments are equipped to handle CO leaks and should be called through emergency services.

Staying safe through rare Houston freeze events means never using a stove to heat your home, never place a generator inside and install and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

"The only way you can tell that you have a leak or that it's getting into your home is the detector," said Brundidge.

Her mission continues. She is still sending free carbon monoxide detectors across the country to anyone in need. To learn more, visit ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com and click on the help tab.

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