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Foundation to pay for family’s new furnace

It seemed a fitting way to launch carbon monoxide awareness month.

The Amanda Hansen Foundation, named for the West Seneca teenager who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while at a sleepover four years ago, will pay for a new furnace for a Town of Tonawanda woman.

Candee Camillo said she had a local company come out to do a tune-up and check on her gas furnace, which she believes is the original furnace for the house built in 1951. She has owned the house for eight years, but it was the first tune-up of the furnace. It never had a problem heating the home.

But the company found some cracks and holes in the furnace and warned it could be emitting carbon monoxide gas. The furnace needed to be replaced – not tuned up.

Camillo, a single mother who lives in the house with her 13-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son, did not have the $3,300 to install a new furnace.

“I don’t have that much money set aside. I have no major credit cards,” said Camillo, who found a new job last year after losing her previous one.

It also seemed like everything in the 62-year-old house has been falling apart at once. So she decided to get carbon monoxide detectors as a Band-Aid until she could save for a new furnace. Then she discovered they cost around $30 each.

“Not everybody can afford to do that. We have three floors,” Camillo said.

She looked online and found the Amanda Hansen Foundation, which supplies detectors to those who cannot afford them and raises awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

January is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month.

Kim and Ken Hansen, Amanda’s parents, will do anything they can to raise the awareness of others so they don’t go through the same unspeakable loss. In 2010, they succeeded in passing Amanda’s Law in the New York State Legislature, which requires detectors in new and existing homes.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced when anything is burned. Common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include malfunctioning or poorly installed fuel-burning appliances, cars running in an attached garage with the door closed, and a blocked chimney or flue.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to detect, but victims often feel dizzy and lethargic and sometimes nauseous. They often drift off to sleep as they succumb to the gas.

Camillo said she started thinking about her furnace because of how her daughter slept long hours during the winter vacation.

“I’ve been so tired lately, just unreasonably tired,” she said, adding that she works from home. “If I sit down in any chair, I’m knocked out.”

The detectors have not gone off, but she has opened windows on each floor of the house for fresh air.

Hansen called her and said the foundation will pay for the furnace. Roy’s Plumbing & Heating of the Town of Tonawanda will install it today.

“I’m excited over the blessing,” Camillo said of the new furnace. “I’m going to make sure to give it back in some capacity.”

Ken Hansen said the foundation cannot buy a new furnace for everyone, but the timing and the situation seemed right.

“This is something nice to kick off Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month,” he said.


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