Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Encourage Jim Pressel to Protect Hoosiers from Carbon Monoxide

We would hope as the district’s elected official that Jim Pressel would hear the concerns of the people in his district that there be no further opposition against the LaPorte Carbon Monoxide Ordinance as there has been in the past. The builder’s association needs to get out of the way and allow this ordinance to do as it’s written to do — to protect the people.

The reality is that the state is very behind in working with current building code. Until they play “catch up” to update the code, this ordinance needs to be in place. Carbon Monoxide is called the Silent Killer because you can’t see or smell it; however, Carbon Monoxide poisoning is 100% preventable. Prevention is detection. CO alarms are detection.

Jim Pressel of Pressel Enterprises, a home builder in LaPorte (links to Facebook page), is the State Representative for District 20, which includes large parts of LaPorte and Starke Counties. Whether you live in his district or not, feel free to contact Jim to share your thoughts about this important matter which will go before the next Fire Prevention & Building Safety Commission meeting on Tuesday, May 2nd at 9am.

Click to contact Jim Pressel. You can also visit his Facebook page and write a message there.

Jim Pressel

Click image to contact Jim Pressel.


Springing Into Art

SSDAAs most who follow the work of our organization know, LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has a dual mission. Throughout the fall and winter months, carbon monoxide awareness is our primary focus. As the weather warms and (usually, during “normal” weather cycles) CO is less of a threat, we turn our attention toward the other part of our mission: “unleashing the artistic dreams of youth.”

Today is the first day of spring and plans for our arts agenda for this year are underway!

LOK Heads to Indy to Provide Testimony About Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Dot Kesling is packing her bags to head to Indianapolis this week. She is coming to town to provide testimony in support of the LaPorte’s city carbon monoxide ordinance in front of the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission.

Kesling is hoping that she can reach the hearts and minds of those who will be present. Previous bills have come before the Indiana Senate and thus far, have not passed. Kesling has begun a grassroots effort, appealing to city and county councils to pass CO ordinances requiring CO alarm installations. Unfortunately though, a state ruling has the power to overturn local decisions, so winning allies downstate could be critical to future legislative success.

Kesling is not a politician. She is not an attorney. She is a LaPorte, Indiana mother who lost her 22-year old daughter, Lindsey O’Brien Kesling, to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning over 6 years ago. In lieu of flowers at her daughter’s funeral, Kesling asked loved ones to donate to a foundation she created, LOK Wishing Tree Foundation, to honor Lindsey’s memory and to spread the word about the dangers of carbon monoxide, an easily preventable cause of death. Along her journey, Kesling has assembled a support cast of friends, relatives, volunteers, firefighters, business people, media professionals, CO survivors, family members of other carbon monoxide poisoning victims and even college students, which particularly warms Kesling’s heart. “Firefighters have their hands full. Peer to peer awareness and education like these kids are doing is our hope in further leveraging our co educational outreach,” Kesling adds. The tiny nonprofit has organized dozens of carbon monoxide awareness events over the past few years, most of them hosted at firehouses, in conjunction with fire prevention month. Though Kesling is extremely grateful to her network of volunteers for helping her spread the word about the dangers of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s tough work…on a shoestring budget. With support from partners, the foundation has been able to make free and low cost CO alarms available to many Indiana residents who could not otherwise afford them.

46 states across the country have enacted some kind of CO safety law. “There is absolutely no reason that Indiana is not one of them! We need professional and elected officials to take leadership on protecting citizens about this; instead the burden from lack of protection currently falls to those citizens least educated about the dangers,” Kesling states. Carbon monoxide safety laws are not the result of partisan politics and are found in states both red and blue across the country. These laws protect citizens from needless and avoidable injury or death from the hazards of household CO exposure.

Dot Kesling with the Christner family

Dot Kesling with the Christner family

LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s free CO alarms have saved at least one family in her daughter’s hometown of LaPorte, Indiana. In December 2014, just two months after receiving a free alarm at a LaPorte Fire Department carbon monoxide awareness event, LaPorte resident Alexandra Christner, her five-year-old son, and her baby son were awakened from sleep by their CO alarm while her husband was at work. They exited the home immediately. Firefighters found extremely high levels of CO in the house, reportedly from a faulty furnace.

Meanwhile, there have been far too many Hoosiers who have not been so fortunate… The LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has learned of at least  12 deaths in Indiana between 2011 and 2016.

While death is the most obvious outcome Kesling would like to prevent, the societal impact from non-fatal exposure is staggering as well, especially when compared to the low cost of purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm (typically available for as little as $20). If exposure to dangerous levels of CO occurs, victims may also face:

  • Average cost of an ambulance ride can range from $224 – $2,204, and typically $1,600 for Medicare beneficiaries. (U.S. Accountability Office)
  • Average cost of an ER visit is about $1,233 before major treatments are factored in. (Medical Expenditures Panel Survey)
  • Average cost of a funeral ranges $7,000 – $10,000. (

Carbon monoxide incidents are more common than most think. According to the CDC:

  • In 2007, there were 2,302 hospitalizations for confirmed cases of unintentional, non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.
  • In 2007, there were 21,304 emergency department visits for confirmed cases of unintentional, non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.
  • From 2000-2009 there were about 6,832 CO exposure calls reported annually
  • Accidental, non-fire-related CO poisoning in the US appears to account for over $1.3 billion in acute medical expenses and lost earnings annually. (Source:

Attorney Gordon Johnson has become a recent ally when he discovered the foundation’s blog. Johnson says, “The importance of working carbon monoxide detectors can’t be noverstated. Without a detectors, there will be no warning that someone is not suffering from a flu like illness, for which the common prescription is to go to sleep. Go to sleep and you are likely to die in a CO rich environment. If detectors are hardwired into the construction, then even if the batteries have not been kept fresh, the detector will warn in the overwhelming number of emergencies. The only logical choice is to get detectors installed, wired into to new construction.

“Too many in the medical profession see carbon monoxide poisoning as a binary choice, almost like choking. Your oxygen cut off too long, you will die. You somehow avoid death through asphyxiation, then you will be fine. But more than 40% of those who survive significant carbon monoxide poisoning will have long term neuropsychiatric symptoms. What does that mean? It means they will have brain damage, brain damage that is likely to disable them for life.

“There is no cure for brain damage. The only cure is prevention. CO detection is the best prevention and that requires working CO detectors.”

Kesling could not agree more. She understands that builders need to run profitable businesses and she would not deny them that. “What good is the American dream of owning a home of your own if the homeowner is dead or permanently brain damaged due to carbon monoxide?” Kesling implores. LaPorte City Attorney Rebecca McCuaig and LaPorte  Fire Chief Andy Snyder will accompany Kesling on the trip to Indianapolis March 7th in support of the grassroots efforts to establish CO city ordinances in the state.


Local Plumbing Company Goes Above and Beyond toward Carbon Monoxide Safety

LaPorte resident and development professional, Dionne Lovstad-Jones, donates her time to the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation and has served as a board member with the organization since 2013. Though she enjoys all of the foundation’s work, she has always been especially drawn toward their mission of reducing deaths due to accidental carbon monoxide. “It’s about saving lives. It doesn’t get much more important than that, right?” asks Lovstad-Jones.

In early February 2017 Dionne scheduled a routine service call for her home’s boiler. After servicing the boiler, technician Nathan (Nate) Betts of Dye Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning asked her if she had carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Rather than taking her word for it, he sensitively asked if he could see the location(s) of the alarm(s).  Betts then tested each alarm, and checked each for the expiration date.

Lovstad-Jones was so impressed with Betts’ care and diligence in inspecting the CO alarms in her home that she arranged a surprise “thank you” visit through Dye Plumbing Owner, Dan Combs. Dionne dropped in at Dye’s LaPorte office during a staff meeting with a box of chocolates during Valentine’s Day week as a special thank you for Nate. During the staff meeting, she shared her story as well as the story of her involvement with LOK Wishing Tree Foundation.

Dionne brought another gift as well, 10 CO Alarms, presented on behalf of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation. The free alarms are made possible by a generous Community Power for Good grant from the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County as well as ongoing support from First Alert, a leader in residential fire and carbon monoxide alarm devices, to provide free and discounted CO alarms to those in need.

Technicians will be empowered to share the alarms at their discretion. Beyond these initial gifted alarms, Combs indicated interest in purchasing additional alarms for the purpose of continuing their efforts at keeping local residents safe from the dangers of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and continuing efforts around our Take the CO Vow / Pay It Forward Campaign. The team of technicians agreed to share brochures and magnets from LOK to help spread the word about our work.

Nathan Betts (left) with his manager (and company owner), Dan Combs

Combs reiterated with all his staff the importance of checking alarms, stating that, “We really have the opportunity to make a difference and save lives from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.  The risk is real.  Each time we help a customer understand the importance of having a working alarm, and testing or replacing it regularly, we’re potentially saving lives.”

We appreciate Dye’s leadership in making carbon monoxide safety a priority. It seems like such a common sense thing to do — making sure homes are protected with a relatively low cost CO alarm. We hope that state and local legislators will follow Dye’s lead when language regarding state building codes is reviewed to decide if CO alarms should be required. There has been some push back that putting additional regulations on builders would cause negative economic impact. It’s hard to imagine that any potential negative economic impact would outweigh the societal impact caused by carbon monoxide each year. It is estimated that 95,000 people in the United States are exposed to carbon monoxide each year, resulting in costs of over $936 million for non-fatal exposures and over $34 million for fatal exposures. (From


Dye Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning; Dan Combs, owner
1600 Lake Street, La Porte, IN 46350

Sparrow Mobile CO Device Holds Promise for Saving Young Lives

Sparrow phoneLOK Wishing Tree Founder Dot Kesling lost her daughter Lindsey to carbon monoxide poisoning in November 2010. Since that time she has learned of other parents who have lost their children to CO as well. Don Johnson in Colorado has been a strong supporter and mentor to Dot, sharing insights into how to make changes that will save parents from this avoidable tragedy in the future.

Both Dot and Don agree that a mobile device is necessary to protect young people since they are so often on the go. Most teens and 20-somethings keep their mobile phones nearby constantly. Don Johnson has been working with a company called Eco Sensors that has been developing a device that promises to be a good fit for this demographic.

The SPARROW monitor is a dream come true for me especially since it links to the Otterbox phone case. My daughter, Lauren was killed by carbon monoxide, while trying to call for help on her phone. She never knew what killed her. The SPARROW monitor would have saved her life. I know people think it can’t happen to them but in fact it can. Such an easy and inexpensive way to protect the people you love.

Don Johnson, President, The Lauren Project

Sparrow is currently raising funds for the launch of the Sparrow device using the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. Click here for more details.

Motivated by the death of Lauren Moilien Johnson, the mission of The LAUREN Project is twofold: to prevent similar tragedies by advocating for carbon monoxide safety; and to provide grants to persons who have been selected to participate in nonprofit international volunteer programs.

The Lauren Project Logo

Carbon Monoxide Legislation Update

CO Legislation MapWe have had some recent hopeful news and media coverage on the carbon monoxide legislation front only to be disappointed by proposed legislation being tabled or otherwise stalled:

  • Senator Michael Bohacek from Indiana State Senate District 8 authored Senate Bill 343 which would require the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in new single family and multifamily residential construction. The bill was read for the first time last week and referred to Committee on Commerce and Technology.

  • The LaPorte CO Ordinance has been tabled. We are not surprised, however, very disappointed as this draft was written in very general terms in hopes of avoiding hurdles from special interest groups.

  • Chesterton, Indiana’s CO draft has been tabled as well due to some legal issues, that they won’t disclose to us after numerous attempts to uncover.

It is our hope to keep steady pressure on legislators to get laws passed in Indiana.

Cities have the power to pass ordinances, even if the state has not, though the state does have the power to override local legislation. There is NO reason for this legislation not passing! It is not an issue that is not divided along party lines. It is a public health and safety issue that effects everybody and it is the responsibility of the decision makers down state to keep their constituents safe! This is not about Lindsey’s story alone. Many are effected by death or illness and the costs — both financial and non-financial — are devastating. Families who have lost a loved one or individuals whose health has been effected can obviously talk very personally about the emotional costs, but here’s a link that also shows some of the actual costs that often become the burden of tax payers as well.

Any help we can get from our supporters to accomplish this is most appreciated. Sign our petition and/or start your own if you are in a different voting district. Contact your legislators directly to let them know you care about safety and want to protect yourself and those you love from the dangers of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Not sure what laws apply in your area? Check here to learn more:


Yes, Virginia, you are a Santa Claus!

LOK’s dear friend, Valparaiso Artist Virginia Phillips, made sure we didn’t have a blue Christmas last year by giving us the rights to use the image of another one of her beautiful paintings. A portion of the sales of these items raises money for our work toward carbon monoxide awareness and providing arts opportunities for youth in under-served areas.

Check out “Deep Blue Sea”, the new design, now available on a wide variety of products — everything from home decor to clothing and other functional items.

Visit our online Society6 store to order these as well as other designs and items. The percentage varies, but we typically earn about 10% commission on each purchase. As always, additional donations to directly fund our work are always appreciated.

A Normal Life: A Sister’s Odyssey Through Brain Injury

book-cover-199x300In a recent podcast, we had a chance to speak with Lyrysa Smith, author of A Normal Life: A Sister’s Odyssey Through Brain Injury, a book she wrote to spread awareness about carbon monoxide. In February 1995 Lyrysa’s sister Molly and her husband were looking forward to a ski weekend when a faulty heater in their motel room took Molly’s husband’s life and left Molly in critical condition.

After a harrowing rescue, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, an extended time in a coma and lots of therapy, Molly and her caregivers continue to be challenged by the brain injury inflicted by carbon monoxide.

Please listen to the episode and be sure to share it to help us get the word out, especially as we enter into the winter season when many will be travelling. If you don’t yet own a travel CO alarm, please consider buying one for yourself and also for loved ones this holiday season.

Listen to the episode.

Visit Lyrysa’s website to get a free copy of Chapter 1 of her book

Read Lyrysa’s blog post: Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Do you have a story about carbon monoxide? Tell us about it and we may contact you to be interviewed on a future podcast episode.

Let’s Make Some Noise About Carbon Monoxide!

Carbon Monoxide is a Silent Killer…

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it.

There are ways to stop it though!

It’s free and easy and will help us amplify our CO Awareness message this season.

Share your social media status update with us!
We’re using Thunderclap to make a big noise about this Silent Killer to kick off our Fall 2016 campaign. Just click this link to donate your social media status on one or more platforms on September 13, 2016. (You need to sign up before that date to participate.)

Here’s how it works:

Click here to learn about other ways to get involved.
Protect your home and those you love from carbon monoxide!
Please install a CO alarm if you do not already own one. If you own one, replace it if it is more than 5-7 years old. Check the batteries to make sure it is operating property. When in doubt, replace! Consider purchasing alarms for those who do not have one or donating to LOK so that we may provide alarms for those in need.

Progress to date:

Young Artist Expo Celebrates Local Talent

The weather was beautiful as guests drifted up the front walk of the Lubeznik Center for the Arts during the 3rd Annual LOK Young Artist Expo on June 3rd. Local poet musician, Edie Rene Miller, played her guitar and recited her poetry for the gathering crowd as they entered the gallery.

LOK staff Simpson O’Brien, Arlene Francis and Kathy Sipple and volunteers, Liz Brenel and Yo Halliar, assembled behind their welcome table in the entry, greeting guests, helping students acclimate and accepting gifts from donors.

Student ambassadors Charlie, Siobhan and Jayla, along with other young volunteers greeted guests at the door, providing them with the rundown on the night’s exciting activities. Jordan, a friend of one of the South Shore Dance Alliance dance troupe members arrived and asked, “how can I help?” His simple question was representative of the overall mood and energy of the event. The evening is a culmination of lots of orchestrated, hard work on the part of the artists, dancers, musicians as well as their teachers and parents, plus lots of help from interested others who are happy to pitch in to make the evening a success.

The art on display from Bloomington Boys & Girls Club and Northwest Indiana artists in the Nipsco gallery was as impressive and diverse as ever. Janet Bloch, Education Director at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, lovingly hang the artwork and prepare the gallery to be welcoming for visitors with special nametags for students artists and their parents and plenty of kid-friendly snacks.

Several young artists gamely agreed to give an impromptu video interview via Facebook live streaming video for new LOK volunteer, Yo Halliar. Yo was a brand new volunteer and new to streaming video as well, but she made it happen, allowing people who couldn’t attend to share in the excitement of the evening.

Returning artists Jack Boardman displayed several pieces including a Picasso-inspired self portrait and an embroidered piece. Origami artist Hayley Schuberth displayed several paper swans and

Drums signaled the approach of the 6:00 performing arts start time. Drummers and dancers in traditional African dress led visitors into Lubeznik’s main gallery for a highly energetic opening number, a traditional African welcome dance, chosen by South Shore Dance Alliance Artistic Director, Larry Brewer.

As the drumming faded, Lubezik Center’s Erika Hanner, welcomed visitors, joking “that has got to be the hardest act to follow, ever!” She thanked the parents for the part they played in getting kids to their practices and making arts a priority for their kids, even when it wasn’t easy to do. She also thanked LOK Wishing Tree Foundation for its role in the unique partnership both organizations enjoy.

Next music instructor Sara Miller and her four young violinists offered a few numbers. Charlie Brown, 15, followed with a violin solo. Charlie was the lone performer in attendance from Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. Charlie was chosen as a student ambassador this year; he began in the award winning LOK Performing Arts Program at the age of 10 and has steadily progressed with much practice each year.

After the violins, the music tempo changed to a decidedly uptempo beat with Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars. Even a little technical difficulty with the sound system could not distract the young dancers from delivering their best performance. They patiently waited, silent and in their positions, as the sound issue was corrected, then showed their stuff — some acrobatics and some old school break dancing moves and more.

The South Shore Dance Alliance returned to the floor after a costume change and performed an enchanting group number as well as a duet with student ambassadors, Sioban and Jayla. Siobhan, a graduating senior, went to the Alvin Ailey Summer intensive last summer, and the summer before she received a full scholarship from SSDA. Sophomore Jayla will attend the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive in New York City this summer; last year she received a full scholarship from SSDA as well.

Kathy Sipple from LOK Wishing Tree Foundation offered brief closing remarks, thanking all for the part they played in the program’s success. “The foundation feels very good about offering scholarship funds to our arts partners. They take this seed money and grow it into something beautiful like what you saw tonight. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to raise arts opportunities for youth? It takes a community. It takes you. We appreciate every bit of help, whether in the form of time, talent or treasure.”

Please consider making a donation and/or getting involved as a volunteer or artist mentor/sponsor. With your help, we can sustain these important programs for our youth.