Janelle Bertot, a Western High School graduate, was a pre-med student at Florida International University. Bertot, then 19, and Anthony "Tony" Perez, 25, of Miami, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2004 while inside a van that was running.
"She was basically going out on a date. As a mom, you always tell your kids the basic things — don't speed, wear your seat belt," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have said to check the exhaust system of the car."
Bertot decided to create a foundation to promote awareness of carbon monoxide, known as the "silent killer" because it is a deadly colorless, odorless gas. It can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces and is found in "combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
Carbon monoxide can be particularly dangerous during hurricane season as a result of the use of portable generators.
About 175 guests attended the foundation's recent fundraising gala at the Broward County Police Benevolent Association in Dania Beach. As part of its mission, the foundation recently partnered with Kidde, a fire safety product manufacturer, to donate 72 battery-powered carbon monoxide alarms to Dania Beach to be installed in residents' homes and businesses.
The foundation also buys and distributes carbon monoxide detector kits that can be