AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Last week, a carbon monoxide detector helped to save the lives of residents in a Agawam condo complex.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it’s a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when fuel is burned, so you can’t see it or smell it. If it is not vented properly, it can accumulate inside of buildings or cars and cause illness or death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Even though you can’t see or smell it, a carbon monoxide detector can detect the gas. That was the case in Agawam last week when seven condos were evacuated by the fire department after a resident’s carbon monoxide alarm went off due to high levels of CO in the building. The cause was a malfunctioning gas hot water heater.

If your carbon monoxide detector is going off, call 9-1-1 immediately, like the resident did.

“The fire department arrived to find very high levels of carbon monoxide in the basement of that level as well as several apartments in that building. So if not for the presence of the carbon monoxide detector, those people would have been exposed to potentially fatal levels of carbon monoxide as they were sleeping,” said Agawam Fire Chief Alan Sirois.

Carbon monoxide can come from furnaces, hot water heaters, gas stoves, gas and charcoal grills, running vehicles and generators. Chief Sirois recommends that gas and oil appliances be checked usually once a year. Carbon monoxide detectors should be checked once a twice and replaced every ten years.