In the beloved holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” George Bailey gets to see what life would have been like without him. Candace Lightner, founder of MADD, is a shining example of the difference one life can make – and, because of being accidentally poisoned by carbon monoxide, she almost didn’t survive to found the world-famous non-profit, which is credited with saving over 600,000 lives.
My name is Elizabeth Bryan, and I am the co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings.” According to the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States. And, it can happen to anyone – I know, because I almost lost my entire family to the deadly gas when a workman in my home disengaged our First Alert CO detector. He wrongfully assumed that the alarm sounding meant that the batteries needed changing. The batteries were working perfectly, and we nearly died.
Through my writing, Candace has become a dear friend. When she recently shared that she and her twins, Cari and Serena, were also nearly killed by CO, I was astonished – their incident took place a decade before the drunk-driving accident that was to tragically take Cari’s life. In their case, it was broad daylight, and she and her daughters simply “went to sleep” as the odorless gas known as the “silent killer” was being emitted from a faulty furnace. Candace’s father could see his sleeping family through a window looking into the tiny apartment. He banged relentlessly on the door to no avail, trying to wake them out of the deep slumber that would ultimately kill them if he didn’t find help. He thankfully got the landlord to open the door, and brought Candace and her girls outside to safety. When she shared this story, I couldn’t help but think: Who wouldn’t be here if Candace had died from carbon monoxide poisoning?
Most of us are fortunate to never know the pain of losing a child, but we must be grateful and pay homage to women like Candace who use this kind of unfathomable hardship to prevent others from suffering. After losing Cari to a drunk driver, Candace worked tirelessly for years to change public attitudes, modify judicial behavior, and promote tough new legislation that would protect others - all while raising her family as a single mom. Not only must we be grateful, we should be wise, listening to any advice she has about keeping our families safe. To quote Candace, “Obviously, CO detectors are life-saving devices, and, like smoke detectors, one of the most critical additions to your home. Everyone needs to have one installed immediately.”
I couldn’t agree more. Think about it - people die from disease, in war, in accidents and for a whole slew of reasons, many of which are debatable as to whether they could have been avoided. We are empowered when we protect ourselves and our loved ones as best we can, and dying from CO poisoning is completely preventable. Since detectors can be purchased at Lowes or Target or Sears or ACE for as little as $19.99, it might just be the easiest, most inexpensive way to protect our families, especially during the holidays when the risks of accidental poisoning increase.
Every human being on this planet, including you, has purpose and is capable of greatness. And, like Candace, each one of us impacts others in some way, big or small. I am grateful that she shared this story so I could share it with you, in the hopes that you will take every measure to keep your loved ones safe by buying a detector. That action in itself is changing the world as never know the impact your life or theirs will have on others.
To read my full story and become even more empowered and educated with safety tips, click the link below:
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