HED:Luck was on the side of Amory woman, dog
By Lena Mitchell
AMORY Linda Knight celebrates her 68th birthday next week.
There’s no hesitation in telling her age because Knight is just happy to be alive to enjoy another birthday with her four-legged companion, Leibe. The two of them narrowly escaped death from carbon monoxide poisoning in early 1996.
“I had been sick about two years before that,” Knight says. “I was coughing constantly, couldn’t talk and had a headache all the time. My little dachshund dog always sleeps with me and she had gotten so bad that all night long she just jerked and jerked.”
Thinking the 11-year-old dog, who also suffers from diabetes, was just showing signs of old age, Knight said she was prepared to have her put to sleep.
“I got up one Monday morning and the air conditioner came on,” she continued. “I was standing right by the vent by my bed and thought something smelled funny.”
She called the gas company and about 30 minutes later a worker came out to check the problem.
“He said, ‘lady, I don’t know how you’re alive.’ He shut everything off and told me to get my air conditioner fixed.”
Knight was extremely fortunate, says Bob Betts of AirTec Air Conditioning and Heating. She had called his Tupelo business to check her gas-powered central heating and air conditioning system.
“There were holes in her heat exchange the size of quarters,” Betts says. “I don’t know how she and the dog survived.”
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and nausea. Untreated, the poisoning can lead to coma and death.
Most people are not even aware when there is a risk, says Dr. Jim Kirksey, director of emergency services at North Mississippi Medical Center.
“Household appliances just aren’t perceived as a threat,” Kirksey says. “When there is a problem in a house usually everyone suffers. And since loss of judgment is one of the symptoms, no one is thinking clearly when there is the greatest danger.”
That’s why it’s important to have gas systems checked annually and install a carbon monoxide detector, Betts says.
Thinking back, Knight says she believes the problem may have gone without repair for four years.
“Four years before that I had my unit checked when the lady across the street from me was having some work done,” she says. “I went out of town and the lady told me he had checked it out. She said he told her I had a hole somewhere but she couldn’t remember where, and I forgot about it.”
The widow says she and her husband had replaced the central heating and air conditioning system in 1977. The house was built in 1960.
After the problem was identified and the system shut down, Knight says she had the entire unit replaced in the fall.
“My dog and I were so sick,” Knight says. “We were really lucky, because she sleeps on my pillow all day right by the vent. I’m just glad I didn’t act on my thought that weekend to put her to sleep. I hope other people will learn from my experience and get everything checked each year.”