Close Call For A Gainesville Family
Just a day after five men died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in South Florida, a family from Gainesville experienced a dangerous carbon monoxide leak in their home.
Gainesville Fire-Rescue responded to a 911 call from a home in Northeast Gainesville this morning. A woman called for help because her 86 year old grandmother was feeling faint. When firefighters arrived, they smelled trouble, literally.
District Chief JoAnne Rice said, "As soon as they went in, they immediately smelled an odor in the house." Rice said although carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, the fire fighters noticed another smell that pointed to the problem. She said, "Sometimes you may be able to smell some of the natural gas or some other products of combustion. Because you know when things are burning, when carbon monoxide's given off it's from incomplete combustion."
According to Rice, the firefighters quickly suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and got the family out of the house. After testing, it was confirmed that there was a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide in the home. Four people were taken to the hospital for treatment. Rice said the outcome could have easily been much worse.
Rice said, "It builds up over time and pretty soon you go from having a headache and nausea and vomiting to unconsciousness and eventually death." GRU confirmed that the carbon monoxide was produced by a furnace that hadn't been properly maintained. And Rice said the home did not have carbon monoxide detectors. She said, "It can kill you. You know carbon monoxide as I said earlier...there's 400 deaths a year just from carbon monoxide alone and we send 20,000 people to the hospital a year from carbon monoxide poisoning."
It's situations like this that emphasize the importance of properly maintaining all fossil fuel burning appliances in your home and working carbon monoxide detectors. Utility Field Services Manager at GRU Thor Wishart said, "I would stress the importance of buying a listed, approved carbon monoxide detector...making sure we maintain it accordingly."
Experts say that you should test your carbon monoxide alarm every month and when in doubt, change it out.
Wishart said, "On the back of the appliance, they have what's called a born on date." The born on date determines the shelf life of your detector. Most last only about five years and if yours is battery operated, don't forget to change them out monthly, when you test the alarm. Wishart and Rice said proactive steps are key.
"It's so easy to take care of...with those smoke detector with a carbon monoxide alarm, you have those things in your house...it provides you the protection you really need. The average price of a carbon monoxide detector is about $20. But if you can't afford that, many fire departments offer assistance. In fact, Gainesville Fire-Rescue will outfit your home for fire and carbon monoxide safety, free of charge...for more information go to www.cityofgainesville.org.
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