'They were instantly reading high levels of carbon monoxide'

'They were instantly reading high levels of carbon monoxide'
KATU photo.

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. - Carbon monoxide poisoning sent a family of five to the hospital Tuesday morning.

The incident happened at a home in the 8500 block of Southeast Constance Drive in Happy Valley.

According to Brandon Paxton, spokesman for Clackamas Fire District #1, they got a call for medical around 6:40 a.m. When crews arrived, they immediately suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

"They quickly got their gas monitors, turned them on and were instantly reading high levels of carbon monoxide," Paxton said.

The readings showed 120 parts per million, which is a significant amount of carbon monoxide. On a normal day, you will have between .5 and 5.0 parts per million in your home.

The family consists of two parents, two teenagers and a grandparent.

"The worst off was semi-conscious and then we had varying degrees of exposure," Paxton said.

Providence public relations manager Lisa Helderop said in a statement that the family is expected to make a full recovery. Paxton said they all received hyperbaric treatment.

Investigators say a faulty swimming pool heater is to blame. The family has an indoor pool on the lowest level of the home.

"Even though we're in the summertime and a lot of people think they're not heating their home, you still may be using natural gas or some other product of combustion to heat your water in your home or your pool," said Paxton. "So it's important to have a working carbon monoxide alarm. They are equally important as having a smoke detector on each level of your home. And due to the fact that carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless, it's important to have a mechanical feature there to alert you."

How can you tell if you or someone else is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning?

"The people we see tend to be fatigued, lethargic, have nausea, are vomiting or have bright red skin," Paxton said. "Those are the key indicators."

With carbon monoxide poisoning, time is of the essence - if you notice the symptoms get out of the home or other enclosed area immediately and call 9-1-1.

Prevention

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your gas appliances inspected regularly by a qualified technician (NW Natural offers free inspections). Here are some more tips:

  • Make sure all vents and chimneys are properly installed and inspected regularly for improper connections, visible rust, or stains.
  • Keep chimneys and vents free of debris, such as leaves, creosote, and animal nests.
  • Make sure heating equipment and appliances are installed correctly and maintained regularly.
  • Installing and properly maintaining a UL approved carbon monoxide detector can alert you when a certain level of carbon monoxide is in the air, but should not replace regular maintenance on appliances. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation. Contact your state fire marshal’s office for information regarding proper placement, testing and maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Look out for problems that could signal improper appliance operation, such as: Burning or unfamiliar odors, furnace constantly running or unable to heat the house, moisture inside of windows, soot.