Carbon Monoxide Emergency- Severn
On September 12th at 4:48 p.m. firefighters and paramedics responded to a medical emergency in the 1500 block of Ringe Drive. While evaluating a patient complaining of chest pains, a small carbon monoxide detector attached to the medical bag carried by the paramedics alerted them to the presence of high levels of carbon monoxide within the home. The first responders and residents were evacuated from the home, and additional resources were requested to the scene.
The investigation found carbon monoxide levels in the upper 30s throughout the home. The source was determined to be a gas stove which was secured and the home ventilated.
A total of 12 patients were evaluated by paramedics and transported from the scene. Only one patient, who had been inside the residence for most of the day, displayed symptoms consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning. The other occupants had been exposed for periods less than 90 minutes, and although not symptomatic did have indications of CO exposure based on readings from portable CO oximeters carried by paramedics. The six adults and six juveniles were transported to Baltimore Washington Medical Center, the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center. None had symptoms that were believed to be life-threatening.
About Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is often called the invisible killer. It is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning, and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, feeling light-headed or headache. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
Symptom severity is related to both the CO level and the duration of exposure. For slowly developing residential CO problems, occupants and physicians can mistake mild to moderate CO poisoning symptoms for the flu, which sometimes results in tragic deaths. For rapidly developing, high-level CO exposures (e.g., associated with the use of generators in residential spaces), victims can quickly become mentally confused, and can lose muscle control without having first experienced milder symptoms; they will likely die if not rescued.
It is recommended that CO alarms be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.