We would like to share information on a recent call in the Lakeshore Community. A resident who has a working carbon monoxide/ explosive gas meter in the upstairs of his home called because the detector had activated. The resident thought it may be the batteries, which he changed and installed new ones. He then relocated it to the kitchen of the home. However, the detector kept going off. That is when he decided to contact the Tega Cay Fire Department to have us come out and check the home. Once on scene, we used a combination of multi-gas meters and an explosive gas meter and it alerted us to the presence of a hazardous condition. The homeowner had already evacuated his family from the residence. It is important to make sure everyone is away from the home until the issue can be determined. We contacted the natural gas company for assistance and very carefully, as to not create any sparks, manually ventilated the home where the largest concentrations were noted by our meters.
Many might think the cause would be natural gas leaking from the diaphragm or valve on a hot water heater, a gas log stove, gas for the HVAC heating unit for the residence or a gas stove in the kitchen. All are great guesses and you would be right in 99% of all carbon monoxide detector calls....except for this one. The culprit? A golf cart that was left charging overnight in the garage with the garage overhead door closed. The were picking up hydrogen reads. The lead batteries that power the golf cart were not emitting carbon monoxide, they were emitting hydrogen and will activate a carbon monoxide detector. Please note that hydrogen shares many of the same characteristics as carbon monoxide. It is clear, odorless and can make an individual, dizzy, have a headache and feel nauseous. Electric golf carts use batteries that, when in good working condition, do not emit any gasses when being charged. In the event of faulty, old, or broken battery, there is the potential for hydrogen to be emitted.
These types of calls are becoming more frequent as the popularity of electric golf carts, and even some electric cars that plug in, gain in popularity. We are not trying to unnecessarily alarm the public, but as a precaution the Tega Cay Fire Department would strongly encourage every electric golf cart owner to ensure that the golf carts are well maintained and batteries are in proper working condition. Charge electric golf cart batteries in a well ventilated space. At the very least, we recommend that all homes with a golf cart have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home to potentially detect any possible emissions. The homeowner from this situation invested $60 in the carbon monoxide/explosive gas meter in his home and it potentially saved him thousands of dollars as well as potentially saving his and his family's lives.
We hope these safety tips are useful and of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here at the Tega Cay Fire Department. We have a full time staff that is available 24 hours and day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.