Carbon monoxide sickens eight
December 12, 2007
Carbon monoxide sickened eight people Saturday in a Park City duplex, the Park City Fire District reports, a case that comes while Parkites are running their furnaces full blast as the coldest weather of the season settles over the area.
The eight people suffered various stages of carbon-monoxide poisoning, but none of the cases is life-threatening, according to Tricia Hurd, a spokesperson for the Park City Fire District.
The victims were nauseous, vomiting and complained of headaches. A child, said to be 7 or 8 years old, suffered the worst, Hurd says, with the child’s awareness being affected. They remained conscious, though.
The Park City Police Department received a complaint from the 2000 block of Cooke Drive at 7:06 a.m., and initial reports indicate there was concern about a gas leak.
Hurd says someone inside the duplex complained they were sick overnight. When an emergency crew arrived, they found the others were sick.
Two ambulances took the eight victims to hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley. They were treated with oxygen, but Hurd is unsure of their conditions. Their ages are not immediately available, and it is unclear whether they are related.
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Meanwhile, Hurd reports the fire district has received two unrelated carbon-monoxide complaints since the start of December. Both occurred in Park Meadows, and nobody suffered symptoms, she says.
In the Park Meadows cases, carbon-monoxide-alarms alerted people inside. Hurd says a malfunctioning water heater and a malfunctioning furnace caused the Park Meadows cases.
At the Cooke Drive duplex where the eight were exposed, a Questar investigator discovered a furnace that was not working properly. Questar ordered the people to not return to the duplex until the furnace was repaired.
The three incidents occurred as a major winter storm dumped snow on Park City, lowering temperatures considerably from what had been a balmy start of winter.
Local carbon-monoxide cases are often blamed on furnaces that do not work properly, and officials at City Hall and the fire district urge people to make sure furnaces function as they should.
Hurd says the fire district receives more complaints about carbon monoxide in the winter than other times of the year, saying people run their furnaces more frequently and, with windows closed, there is less ventilation. She recommends installing carbon-monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless.
Richard Carlile, the No. 2 person in the Park City Building Department, had not been briefed about the case by Monday afternoon. The Building Department typically investigates carbon-monoxide complaints.
Sometimes, he says, big snowstorms like the one last week cause carbon-monoxide problems. The snow might slide off a roof and hit pipes used to remove carbon monoxide from furnaces. The damaged pipes then do not properly disperse the carbon monoxide outside.
In cold weather, people occasionally run kerosene or propane heaters, which emit carbon monoxide, he says. Often the gas is not vented to the outside when those types of heaters are used, according to Carlile.
Carlile says it is rare in Park City for more than a few people to suffer carbon-monoxide poisoning in one place at the same time. In his 27-year career in Park City, Carlile is unaware of another case that involved so many people.
Hurd from the fire district recommends people have their furnaces serviced annually, including changing furnace filters, and drivers should not run their cars inside a garage. She says people should regularly clean fireplaces and chimneys as well.
"They don’t realize how deadly or dangerous it can be," Hurd says.