Monday night, four people came back to their Plaistow, New Hampshire home from an out-of-town business conference. The next morning, police were called there for a welfare check and found them in their beds. One was in critical condition, and three of them would never wake up, dead in their sleep from a silent killer: carbon monoxide.
"We make the assumption that they succumbed while they were sleeping, which is not uncommon with carbon monoxide, it's a deadly killer, odorless, colorless, tasteless," says Plaistow Fire Dept. Chief John McArdle.
Those qualities mean that knowing the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning could save your life. But the key symptoms -- headache, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and disorientation -- are often confused with the flu.
"It could fool a lot of people and that's why often they'll wait until it's almost too late before they make the call because it does look like so many other things," says Jim Esdon with the Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center.
In Plaistow, a faulty propane furnace leaked the gas into the house. Investigators found carbon monoxide levels were ten times the level at which a detector would have sounded. The batteries in the detector had been removed. Experts say that there needs to be a working one on every floor, outside every living area. And in snowstorms, or when there's snow falling off the roof, check to make sure the vents for burning appliances aren't blocked. And if you feel sick, get out and call 9-1-1.
"If you know the signs ahead of time and you do have an appliance that's burning and you know that this could happen, again, just get right outside and get that fresh air in," Edson says.
Carbon monoxide detectors will sound a series of four beeps continuously if the gas is detected in the home. If you are ever in doubt, call 9-1-1 immediately. The fire department will come check and can ventilate your home if they need to.
Monday, March 10 2014 12:56 PM EDT2014-03-10 16:56:39 GMT
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