Hospitalized for Carbon Monoxide Because of Missing Alarms

Four were hospitalized for Carbon Monoxide poisoning in a home on Chicago’s West Side because no carbon monoxide alarms were in place to warn the occupants.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

As Christmas approaches, we are again reminded of the danger of living in a cold weather climate like Chicago, without carbon monoxide alarms. Four individuals were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning on December 15, 2022 after they were exposed to high levels in their home at the 1800 block of South St. Louis in Chicago. Levels were as high as 500 ppm as reported by the Chicago Fire Department. All four were hospitalized with three being in serious condition. One elderly woman may have been unresponsive four hours before 911 was called. See

Four hospitalized for carbon monoxide: @CFDMediaEMS plan one secured for high Carbon Monoxide. 1808 south StLouis two flat. Readings were near 500 ppm. Four transports three serious to critical. Including 80 year old woman unconscious. No detectors working. Cause may be furnace please check heating and use CO detectors!”

The 500 ppm is four or five times what would typically set off an alarm. Yet, 500 ppm may severely understate the actual ambient air levels, as this is often all that the CO measuring devices that the EMT’s carry can measure. It is more likely that the levels exceeded 500 ppm as the emergency responders meters were probably pegged, meaning the levels exceeded the amount these devices could detect. With levels that high, the prognosis for any of those hospitalized could still be bleak.

In just the last few weeks, we have focused on the need for carbon monoxide alarms in schools, churches and places where people work. Yet, nothing is an important as that we have carbon monoxide alarms in homes. In places where people sleep, alarms will not only warn of danger–wake people up–they will also provide an instant diagnosis of what is wrong. From reports, it sounds like hours went by with one person seriously ill, before 911 was called. If the alarm had simply sounded, perhaps 911 would have been called immediately.

Alarms Avoid Being Hospitalized for Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide symptoms mimic so many other diseases, especially flue and food poisoning. Without an alarm, precious minutes can go by when an evacuation can prevent injury and death. Properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms can alert the occupants to get out in time. The primary purpose of smoke detectors are to wake people up when they are sleeping if there is a fire. But carbon monoxide detectors have an even greater duty: to alert the occupants of a silent killer. Carbon monoxide alarms not only alert of danger, they diagnose a difficult toxin which is difficult to differentiate from other disease processes.

If you are still searching for a great and inexpensive gift to buy your loved ones, get them a carbon monoxide detector. Great for stocking stuffers or to put under the tree. I spent yesterday buying 25 detectors for my closest friends and colleagues. Show your love by protecting your loved ones life. But detectors do more than avoid fatalities. Detectors will also warn before exposure levels get to the level they can leave survivors with permanent brain damage.

For more see Channel 32’s coverage:

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