Carbon monoxide is a silent killer

Published 6:00 pm Friday, February 15, 2019

VALLEY — Carbon monoxide is a silent, deadly killer and when the months turn colder, many people turn to alternative heating sources to keep the chills away.

It’s important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and to seek medical attention quickly if they start to show, East Alabama Fire District Deputy Chief Kerry Pickard said.

This past week, an entire family was hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning, he said. They have all been released from medical attention as of Friday, and are recovering at home.

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According to Pickard, the incident happened Sunday afternoon at about 1 p.m., and the first call came in after a teenager passed out in the home. When the call first came into first responders, they believed there was only one patient, but by the time they got to the house, it was discovered eight people were sick.

Pickard said it may have been a good thing the teenager passed out because it forced somebody to make a call. He said one of the other people got to the point where they just wanted to lay down and go to sleep and didn’t know why, which is a classic symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pickard said the cause of the incident is still under investigation, but City of Valley inspectors are trying to determine who installed many of the gas appliances and the furnace in the home.

He said the carbon monoxide came from a furnace under the house, but not sure of why it happened.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are feeling tired, headaches, nauseous and throwing up. Pickard said people just want to sleep, and that’s when it’s really dangerous.

“A lot of people confuse it with the flu, and during this time of year, people get it backward,” he said. “They do call it the silent killer.”

Pickard said Sunday’s incident was the first carbon monoxide situation they’ve had in a long time and it’s not usually a big problem in South. However, carbon monoxide poisoning is the No. 1 poisoner in the U.S., and its more common up north when people try to heat their homes with stoves or generators during a power outage.

He said the fire department will help anybody in the district with installing a carbon monoxide detector. Once somebody buys a detector, he said they will go to the residence and make sure it is done correctly. Also, as a general rule of thumb, carbon monoxide detectors should be checked regularly to make sure they are in working order. Pickard said when the clocks change is an excellent time to do so.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless and cannot be seen or heard.

The CDC says to have a heating system, water heating any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances served by a qualified technician every year. There are also many don’ts, according to the CDC.

4   Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill or other gas or charcoal-burning device inside the home, garage or near a window;

4   Don’t run a vehicle inside a garage attached to the house, even with the door open.

4   Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented; and

4 Don’t heat your home with a gas oven.