I’ve posted on several close calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning, where homeowners suffered but survived, but this story is different. This time the deadly gas claimed lives. What’s especially tragic is that this occurred not in the depths of winter, in a cold climate – but in Maryland, in late April. Here’s the story, followed by some serious advice on how to deal with the very real threat of carbon monoxide.
Five people were found dead in an Oxon Hill home full of deadly carbon monoxide, authorities said Tuesday. Prince George’s County police received an emergency call about 10:45 a.m. from a man who went to the house in the 700 block of Shelby Drive to check on the family, said spokesman Mark Brady. The man came across two unconscious adults and called 911.
Too Late to Help
Firefighters arrived and found the bodies of three more adults. Officials determined that the air in the small one-story, single family home in the South Lawn Community contained 550 parts per million of carbon monoxide, Brady said. Anything from 0 to 5 parts per million is considered healthy, and exposure to anything above that can be fatal, he said. Fire, police and Washington Gas Company officials are investigating.
All Victims were Adults
The relationship of the victims wasn’t known at the time, Brady said. The victims were three adult males in their 30s, an adult male in his 40s and a female in her 60s, Brady said. “This appears to be a tragic case of carbon monoxide exposure,” Prince George’s fire chief Marc Bashoor said.
Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
Often called “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent, invisible byproduct of incomplete combustion, so it’s often associated with furnaces and portable heaters: here’s a link to the science of how it kills. At only medium concentration, CO can cause death in as little as 15 minutes, while much lower levels can harm pregnancies and cause long-term health issues. Death caused by CO inhalation is on the increase. In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) names CO as the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.
The California Law
A state law passed in 2010 requires that all California homes with a fireplace, gas appliance, or attached garage, have a detector installed by July 1. The law was passed to help prevent the death of hundreds and sickness to thousands, lawmakers said. More than 30 people die statewide of carbon monoxide poisoning each year and more than 500 nationwide. An Oakhurst, California family of four, including two children, was killed in January when their electricity went out and they used a gas-powered generator in a basement to power their home. The poisonous gas filled their home and they died in their sleep, according to investigators.
The New York Law (Amanda’s Law)
Amanda’s Law was named in honor of Buffalo, NY resident Amanda Hansen, a teenage girl who lost her life to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a defective boiler when sleeping over at a friend’s house in January 2009. Effective February 22, 2010, a new law went into effect in New York to help protect families from the #1 cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the US, carbon monoxide.
Monitored CO Sensors are Best
While the cheaper “plug in” sensors are readily available, there is no substitute for a monitored carbon monoxide sensor. Just like a monitored smoke and heat sensor, a monitored CO sensor will send the alarm to the 24 hour monitoring center, which can dispatch help immediately. If you have passed out from CO poisoning, just having a loud noise is not going to save your life. A monitored system has a much better chance of making that crucial difference – by summoning help.
Today’s alarm systems are designed to monitor for much more than intrusion. There are sensors for CO, smoke and heat, water, and even low temperature. It just makes sense to add one or more of these to any monitored alarm system – and with the right alarm company, you won’t pay any extra monthly fees for the additional monitoring services. Your insurance company will appreciate it too, and may reward you with a lower premium. A full range of sensors goes hand in hand with interactive, wireless home security – the kind you find you find at FrontPoint, the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Do you have all the sensors you need to protect your family?