Reedsburg couple ‘Saved by Grace’ from carbon monoxide poisoning

Pet cat woke couple by banging on door

When their hot water heater malfunctioned and sent a lethal level of carbon monoxide into their home, a Reedsburg couple was saved by their cat, Gracie.

“All of a sudden Gracie, she starts pounding, knocking, knocking, knocking at the door,” Kevin Shanahan said.

It was around 1 in the morning on Feb. 4 and the Shanahan’s were sleeping with the door to their bedroom closed. Gracie was in the room with them.

The sound of Gracie banging on the bedroom door woke up Kevin and his wife, Annette.

“I remember waking up in tremendous pain. I thought I was having a heart attack,” Annette Shanahan said.

The carbon monoxide left the couple disoriented and unable to think clearly. Fortunately, Annette picked up the phone and dialed 911.

“She called 911 and all she could say was, can’t breathe,” Kevin Shanahan said.

When firefighters arrived they determined the air in the upstairs area, where the couple was sleeping, had reached a lethal level of carbon monoxide.

The couple was taken to the hospital where they spent the night before being released.

“We were very lucky. If it wasn’t for the cat, I don’t know how much she wanted to get out of there and she knew enough to know something was wrong and she was pounding on the door,” Kevin Shanahan said.

“I say we were saved by Grace, but saved by the grace of God, because she doesn’t usually sleep with us,” Annette Shanahan said.

The couple had a carbon monoxide detector in the upstairs of their home, but it was 15 years old and was no longer working. They have since purchased four new carbon monoxide detectors.

Manufacturers recommend carbon monoxide detectors be replaced every 5 years.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, on average, 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.