Vail woman sick after carbon monoxide leak
VAIL — Vail Fire and Emergency Services responded to a report of a carbon monoxide alarm in a four-unit residential building on Chamonix Lane on Jan. 8 at around 4:30 p.m..
One of the occupants of the Chamonix Chalets reported feeling ill and sought medical attention. She was found to have carbon monoxide in her bloodstream. The occupant stated that her in-home detector had been registering consistent readings of 30 to 50 parts per million of carbon monoxide for several weeks.
Firefighters donned protective equipment and entered the unit to check for the presence of carbon monoxide. Using a detection meter, firefighters determined 40 parts per million were still present in the upstairs bedrooms. Firefighters monitored adjoining units to check on the safety of other residents. Only one other unit was occupied and no carbon monoxide was detected.
WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced from combustion typically found in gas appliances. When appliances are operating correctly, carbon monoxide is not a concern.
However, when gas appliances are malfunctioning, or not properly vented, as may have been the case in this unit, combustion is less efficient and elevated levels of CO can result.
The exact cause for this event remains under investigation. In residential settings, carbon monoxide levels above 9 parts per million are of concern. At higher levels, signs and symptoms similar to the flu may occur. As CO levels increase, acute carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a serious health concern. Carbon monoxide reaching levels exceeding 400 parts per million can be fatal after two to three hours of exposure. At 6,400 parts per million, death can occur within minutes.
HOW TO PREVENT POISONING
Fire officials say the best protection against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have detectors on each level of your home and preferably in each bedroom. Rental units are required by law to have properly installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. These detectors should have new batteries installed annually and replaced every five years.
Also recommended is to have all gas appliances checked annually by a licensed professional to assure proper function. Any new gas appliance should be rated for high altitude use specific to your elevation, and new appliances must meet code requirements for air exchange and venting.
For more information, contact Vail Fire Marshal Mike Vaughan at 970-479-2252 or visit http://www.NFPA.org/safety-information.