After this weekend’s snow storm, the governor of Connecticut warned residents to be careful about unblocking vents on their houses and properly venting generators to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Too bad the governor of Massachusetts didn’t issue similar advisories.

Two people in that state,  including an 11-year-old boy, died of carbon monoxide when snow covered and blocked their cars’ exhaust pipes, according to AOL. And two other victims had to be hospitalized for CO poisoning.

Imagine the horror of a father in Boston’s Dorchester section when his son died this weekend, died after the dad put the boy in a running car to warm him up. The father and son had been shoveling snow together, but the kid got cold. The dad turned on his car and had the lad get in it, AOL reported.

But apparently a snow plow then came down the street and packed snow in the car’s tailpipe, stopping the lethal carbon monoxide from escaping. It instead backed up into the car, poisoning the boy.

AOL said that just a few hours later, a man was discovered dead in a car with its engine running in Mattapan. Once again, the vehicle’s tailpipe was blocked by snow.

And in the third incident, two children aged 5 and 8, were sent to the hospital Saturday night when their father put them in a running car  as he was busy shoveling snow in East Boston, according to AOL.

Kudos to Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, whose Nutmeg State was slammed by the snow storm that hit the East Coast Friday.

Parts of Connecticut got as much as 40 inches of snow, and the governor had ordered a travel ban in the state.

During a press conference Saturday morning, Malloy also offered some safety tips about ways to avoid carbon monoxide for residents, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

The governor advised residents to check and make sure that all vents on their homes were clear of snow, to stop potentially lethal carbon monoxide from backing up into their homes and killing them.

Malloy also urged residents using generators for emergency power to vent those machines outside of their homes, not in their garages, so that CO would not back into their residences.

That advice may have saved some lives this weekend.

In a panic-filled scene after several kids passed out, more than 40 elementary school students and six adults in Atlanta Monday morning were rushed to a local hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning, various press accounts reported.

According to the story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, children at the Finch Elementary School started to report that they were feeling sick, with headaches and nausea and dizziness at 8:30 a.m. The school principal evacuated the 500 students in the school, and some had already been overcome by the potentially lethal fumes and had to be taken out on stretchers, the Atlanta newspaper reported.

EMTs and firefighters arrived at the scene, with officials checking students and school workers in the parking lot to decide who needed to go to the hospital, the Constitution-Journal reported. As it turned out, 43 students and six school staff members were sent to local hospitals for treatment, according to NBC News.

All of them had been released by 5 p.m. Monday.

Authorities suspect that the school’s heating system was responsible for the carbon monoxide leak, the Atlanta newspaper said. The school doesn’t have carbon monoxide detectors, nor is it required to under the law.

Under safety guidelines people are not supposed to be exposed to more than 50 parts per million of carbon monoxide during an eight-hour span, but the levels at the school were as high as 1,700 parts per million, the Atlanta paper reported.




Carbon monoxide sickened 49 inmates at a jail in York, Pa., with five having to be hospitalized overnight, CNN reported.

Authorities believe that the heating and ventilation system in the county jail’s wing for women was the source of the deadly gas, according to CNN. Female inmates began to feel ill and developed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning on Wednesday night.

Ill inmates were transported to several hospitals, and five of them were still hospitalized as of Thursday afternoon, CNN reported. The female inmates were transferred to different cells, and their unit was closed Wednesday night.

York is 90 miles from Philadelphia, according to AP.


If the topic wasn’t so serious, the hospitality industry’s arguments about why there is no need for it to install carbon monoxide detectors in hotel rooms would be funny. But death isn’t a laughing matter.

The industry tried to justify its inaction in a well-researched story that USA Today just did on why hotel rooms should have alarms to detect the odorless, lethal gas. The newspaper tried to get a tally on how many guests have died, or had to be evacuated, due to carbon monoxide leaks at hotels. It did so by poring over media reports about such incidents, as well as talking to local fire chiefs.

USA Today confirmed what I already knew, namely that very few of the nation’s hotels have installed carbon monoxide detectors in guest rooms. Very few states or towns have laws requiring them to do so, so they don’t yet — more on that later.

In its research USA Today found that from 2010 to Nov. 8 this year, there were 30 incidents of officials finding high levels of carbon monoxide in hotels. Eight people died in those incidents and 170 were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, the paper reported.

An academic, professor of medicine Lindell Weaver at the University of Utah, did his own survey, for the period of 1989 through 2004, of carbon monoxide and hotels. That study found that there had been 68 carbon monoxide incidents, 27 deaths and 772 people who had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, according to USA Today.

The paper cited several examples of lethal carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels, including an incident 2 years ago where five teens died in a Hialeah, Fla., hotel after they left their car running in its garage.

A hotel industry spokesman told USA Today said that carbon monoxide poisonings at hotels are rare, that guests have a better chance of being struck by lightning, so there is no need to install them and there should be no laws mandating that they be installed. Putting CO alarms in rooms would also cause the hospitality industry a bundle.

Weaver makes the same argument that I would make: That even though hotel fires are infrequent, hotel rooms have smoke detectors.

But the story had an interesting revelation, that the International Building Codes (IBC) and the International Fire Codes (IFC) now mandate that existing and new hotels put carbon monoxide detectors in guest rooms or in common areas.

According to one expert quoted in the USA Today story, “all states adopt the IBC, 44 states adopt the IFC, and cities and counties ‘typically’ adopt these codes.”

But that expert said that it takes a couple of years for states and counties to adopt them these standards. I guess that’s when we will finally have carbon monoxide detectors in hotel rooms.

But until then, hotel guests may die because the hospitality industry won’t do the right thing.



Here’s another tragedy that could have been avoided: A young Marine died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his girlfriend’s apartment, which had a carbon monoxide detector with no batteries in it.

McQuen Forbush, 18, was on leave and staying in Meridian, Idaho. He was discovered dead Saturday, from what a coroner determined was carbon monoxide poisoning, according to NewsChannel 7. The deadly gas apparently leaked from a malfunctioning water heater that was located in the unit, the apartment of his girlfriend Bre Halowell.

The local fire chief told NewsChannel 7 that the apartment where Forbush died had a carbon monoxide alarm, but that its batteries had been taken out. Some people do that because they get annoyed when batteries get low and the alarm makes an annoying chirping sound, the chief said.

Forbush and Halowell both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, but she survived.  Halowell was interviewed by NewsChannel 7, and said that she and Forbush felt ill and dizzy when they fell asleep Friday night. The next morning when she woke up, she found Forbush on the floor. She could not find a pulse on him, according to NewsChannel 7.

Halowell was hospitalized and released.

I guess the question now is who took the batteries out of the carbon monoxide alarm?


Hurricane Sandy is continuing to kill people on the East Coast.

No, I’m not talking about people hit by falling trees, or any one else drowning. I’m referring to carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. So far in New Jersey alone, at least five people have died by being poisoned by the lethal gas, which came from gas- or diesel-fueled generators, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Unfortunately, such tragedies often happen when people turn to generators in emergency situations, when they lose power and want to keep warm. With statewide power outages in New Jersey, and cold weather, residents and businesses have fired up generators while unaware of, or ignoring, the warnings about operating such devices.

Here’s the takeaway: Generators need to be operated outside, as far away from a residence, or any nearby residence, as possible. Officials in New Jersey are also warning residents not to use gas ovens, stoves or grills to heat their homes, according to The Ledger. They also pose a threat of causing carbon monoxide poisoning.

The carbon monoxide death count includes Rafael Reyes, a 55-year-old New Brunswick man, who The Ledger reported was found dead in his kitchen Thursday. A generator was on in his basement.

Gracie Dunston, a 59-year-old Trenton woman, was killed and seven members of her family fell ill from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to The Ledger. They had a generator and a propane heater on their first floor.

A man in Edison who had a generator on in his garage died this week. And finally, two 19-year-old Newark women, Mudiwa Benson and Kenya Barber, were killed Thursday by carbon monoxide from a generator that was operating close to their apartment window, The Ledger reported.

Steven Marcus, the director of New Jersey’s poison control center, told The Ledger that his office has been deluged with calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning.

And there will likely be more deaths due to the treacherous gas, because many residents in the Tri-State area are still without power.


A man and his 4-year-old son were found dead in their home in Yorkville, Ill., apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Beacon News.

On Friday the Kendall County Coroner said that an autopsy determined that Joseph Schmitt, 35, and his son Wyland had both breathed “a significant” amount of carbon monoxide, the Beacon News reported. Although police aren’t labeling it as such yet, it may be a murder-suicide, according to the newspaper.

The bodies were found in Schmitt’s garage, where two lawn chairs had been placed near a car. The dead boy was sitting in one chair in his pajamas, while his dad was on the ground. Schmitt’s car was also in the garage, but was not running when police responded to the scene, according to the Beacon News.

Schmitt was separated from his wife Kyle Weber, who had filed for divorce. They had a court date the end of next month.




The Sears in a mall in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday was evacuated after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected in the store, according to The Jersey Journal.

In a rather weird happenstance, the Jersey City Fire Department had just entered the store at the Newport Centre mall to conduct a routine fire inspection when the inspector’s portable carbon monoxide alarm went off, The Journal reported.

The reading was 55 parts per million, far above the level that’s considered dangerous, which is 35 parts per million and higher.

The fire inspector reported the situation and PSE&G was called to the scene to try to find the source of the lethal gas, according to The Journal. The carbon monoxide apparently came through the store’s HVAC system, but PSE&G hadn’t found the source.

No one was injured or hospitalized as a result of the gas, The Journal reported.

An autopsy has determined that a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student died of carbon monoxide poisoning following a fire his apartment in that Wisconsin city, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ross Livermore, 21, of Stillwater Township, was one of two students who were killed as the result of a fire last Monday morning in their apartment. That blaze is under investigation.

Another Stillwater-area youth, 21-year-old Jacob Clarkson, sustained critical burns in the fire and succumbed to them last Tuesday at Hennepen County Medical Center, which is in Minneapolis, according to the Pioneer Press.

Livermore and Clarkson and their two other roommates, Garret Isakson and Casey Malan, also both 21, all graduated from Stillwater Area High School, the Pioneer Press reported.

Isakson and Malan escaped from the four-bedroom apartment the four youths all shared, and were treated at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and released, according the the newspaper.