Carbon monoxide poisonings show need for detectors, experts say

Cases of carbon monoxide poisoning like the one that sickened four police officers and three residents Thursday at a home in Mooresville remain all too common and highlight the need for more public education on the importance of installing detectors, a national safety expert said Friday.

“I think we have made good progress on CO detector awareness, but we’re still not to the point where there’s as much usage as there should be,” said Lorraine Carli, spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association.

The Mooresville case is among an alarming number of carbon monoxide calls that U.S. fire departments continue to respond to each year – about nine an hour, according to the association.

“The frustrating reality for us is people don’t feel they will fall victim to fire, carbon monoxide poisoning,” Carli said.

Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer because the gas can’t be seen or smelled, according to the association

Home heating and cooking equipment that burns fuel is a potential source of carbon monoxide, as are vehicles or generators left running in an attached garage.

The Mooresville incident occurred when a car left running in a closed garage spread the gas in the home in the 100 block of Cinebar Road, off N.C. 115, town officials said.

Police told Observer news partner WBTV that the father in the home had parked his daughter’s car in the garage and mistakenly left it running. Police said the car had a push-button ignition, and the man thought the vehicle was off because he removed the key, WBTV reported.

For 10 hours, police estimated, carbon monoxide filled the home, the station reported.

Three residents of the house were taken to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. Two females had life-threatening conditions, town officials said in a news release. The father also was admitted to the hospital.

Three Mooresville police officers who responded to the house also were hospitalized; two of them were released Thursday night and the third Friday afternoon, town officials said.

A fourth officer also was seen at Lake Norman Regional and was released earlier in the day, town officials said.


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Carbon monoxide safety tips

▪  Install CO alarms centrally outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

▪  When warming a vehicle, move it out of the garage. Don’t run a fueled engine indoors, even if garage doors are open.

▪  Clear all debris from dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents.

▪  Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outside.

▪  Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.

National Fire Protection Association