Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic. Photo by John Schreiber.

A Sylmar couple was alive but sick Monday after a shrill carbon monoxide alarm awakened them before they were killed in the middle of the night by deadly fumes.

While carbon monoxide from an oven, stove or gas heater made the man and woman feel terrible, with headaches and nausea, the alarm woke them in time to save their lives in the unit in a giant apartment building.

Authorities were called to 14040 Foothill Boulevard about an hour before midnight Sunday, Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

“They (the sleeping victims) were awakened by a properly functioning carbon monoxide alarm inside their second floor apartment and awakened to feel ill,” Humphrey said.

Firefighters discovered a measurable presence of  carbon monoxide in the one apartment, he said.

The patients were evaluated by paramedics at the scene and taken to a hospital for further evaluation of “general malaise, headaches and nausea,” Humphrey said.

LAFD HazMat experts looking for the source of the problem were focusing on natural gas-powered appliances including an oven, stove and water heater, he said.

The affected apartment was in a 171-unit building, Humphrey said.

While smoke alarms to guard against fires have been required in residences for years, carbon monoxide alarms have only been required by state law since 2011 for single family homes and 2012 for apartments.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can go unnoticed until victims are unconscious and then dead. Carbon monoxide poisoning results in dizziness, nausea and headaches if victims are saved, but it can be deadly within minutes.

— Staff and wire reports

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