Healthy Homes Provides Support to West Michigan Residents

In an effort to educate the community and rid homes of environmental hazards, the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan is working with families to provide an eye opening look inside their homes, which may result in carbon monoxide detectors, free of charge.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas that can be given off during the burning of fuel. The gas starves the body of oxygen, and can cause death in people of any age. For small children, prolonged exposure can cause long-lasting health and developmental problems. Often times, leaks are a result of malfunctioning furnaces, gas ovens, or any fuel dependent appliance.

The leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States are due to carbon monoxide. Malfunctioning home furnaces are responsible for 18.5% of accidental poisoning. Carbon monoxide detectors operate similarly to fire alarms, as they operate even during power outages, and can be purchased for roughly $20.

To qualify for a free carbon monoxide detector, residents must be living in the Grand Rapids area, have a low to moderate income, and have a child five or under living in the home. The program is available to renters as well as homeowners.

Healthy Homes is also currently seeking volunteers, preferably 50 years or older, who can utilize their life experiences to impact the lives of young families in need. Volunteers will be working to address hazards including lead poisoning, fire dangers, and asthma triggers within the home. With the help of volunteers, hazards that cause life-long health problems and learning disabilities can be assessed before they affect children. Volunteers will also serve as family mentors, pest management coaches, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installers in Grand Rapids neighborhoods.

“When people from the community are willing to donate just two hours a week to help others in need, it can make a huge difference,” said Brittany Schlosser, Volunteer Coordinator at the Healthy Homes Coalition.  “We are seeking additional volunteers to partner with local families to overcome the overwhelming obstacles that can prevent young families from providing a healthy home for their children.”

The Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan began in 2001 with their ‘Get the Lead Out’ Collaborative, and became an independent non-profit in 2006. To find out more about their organization, visit them at

0 replies
  1. Julian Cassell
    Julian Cassell says:

    I think it’s great that you are highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and the need for people to have alarms in their homes, but I just wanted to point out one area of ambiguity that can often be confusing in the area of CO detection. This relates to the terms you use in your article – detector and alarm.

    Sometimes, commentators, and indeed manufacturers, talk about both CO alarms and CO detectors. CO alarm always refers to a device with an audible alarm, but although CO detector generally refers to the same type of device, it may also refer to CO detector patches, which are small plastic cards with a sensitive area at their centre. This central area changes colour when CO levels rise in the atmosphere. Although these patches clearly work, because they rely on someone actually noticing the change in colour, they should only be used as back up to audible CO alarms. Clearly the patches offer no protection when people are asleep.

    Therefore, I simply think that if ‘we’ all referred to the audible devices as CO ‘alarms’, then nobody will ever be in a store, purchase a patch detector (only), thinking they are doing all they can to protect themselves and their family in their home, against the lethal dangers of CO poisoning.

  2. Jennifer Spiller
    Jennifer Spiller says:

    Julian, I think you bring up a great point about terminology! The CO devices that we use at Healthy Homes are both detectors AND alarms. They can detect low levels of CO exposure without alarming, indicating that there is a non-threatening leak that should be taken care of. They will alarm if they detect a CO level that is hazardous to health. In this way, they are both preventative of, and responsive to, potential CO poisonings. We’ve been using ‘alarm’ and ‘detector’ interchangeably, but perhaps you are right that it would be better to refer to them mainly as ‘alarms’. Thank you for your input!


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