Date: 12/16/2008 11:00 PM

BC-Carbon Monoxide,2nd Ld-Writethru/221

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Nearly 30 people at a seafood business were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said Tuesday.

Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Boyd said they were overcome by fumes at the Homeport Seafoods cold storage business. The fire department responded to a call Tuesday morning about a person passing out. When firefighters arrived, everyone was conscious, but people showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can include headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Investigators suspect warehouse doors — closed due to freezing temperatures — trapped carbon monoxide emissions from forklifts, Boyd said.

In all, 29 people arrived at St. Joseph Hospital with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, said hospital spokeswoman Amy Cloud. Four were later transferred to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle for treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, which increases oxygen pressure in body tissues and the amount of oxygen blood can transport, Cloud said.

A manager from Homeport Seafoods declined to comment.

Tony Gerbino, head of hyperbaric care at Virginia Mason, said people should be careful about running generators inside or close to windows of their homes.

Bellingham is about 90 miles north of Seattle.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

As we have said repeatedly herein and on our website, engines cannot be run indoors, without ventilation designed for such use. Portable generators, forklifts, car engines and this time of year, snowblowers all create risks. Be particularly careful not to use your gas stove to supplement your heat when the temperature dips. For more on carbon monoxide poisoning, see our webpage at

Facts about carbon monoxide poisoning:

Most signs and symptoms of CO exposure are nonspecific (e.g., headache or nausea) and can be mistakenly attributed to other causes, such as viral illnesses. Undetected or unsuspected CO exposure can result in death. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The true incidence of CO poisoning is not known, since many non-lethal exposures go undetected. It has been estimated that one-third of all cases of CO poisoning are undiagnosed. – The Internet Journal of Emergency & Intensive Care Medicine

During 2001–2003, an estimated 15,200 persons with confirmed or possible non–fire-related CO exposure were treated annually in hospital EDs. In addition, during 2001–2002, an average of 480 persons died annually from non–fire-related CO poisoning. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The nonfatal rate for CO exposure was highest for children aged under 4 years (8.2 per 100,000 population), whereas the CO death rate was highest for adults aged over 65 years (0.32). Adults aged over 65 years accounted for 23.5% of CO poisoning deaths. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The annualized incidence of fatal and nonfatal CO exposures occurred more often during the fall and winter months, with the highest numbers occurring during December (56 fatal and 2,157 nonfatal exposures) and January (69 fatal and 2,511 nonfatal exposures). The annualized incidence was substantially lower during the summer months, with 21 fatal and 510 nonfatal exposures occurring during June and 22 fatal and 524 nonfatal exposures occurring during July. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The majority (64.3%) of nonfatal CO exposures were reported to occur in homes; 21.4% occurred in public facilities and areas. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

CO from motor-vehicle exhausts is the single most common cause of poisoning deaths in the United.10 Of the 11,547 unintentional CO deaths during 1979-1988, 57% were caused by motor vehicle exhausts; of these 83% were associated with stationary vehicles. Most motor-vehicle-related CO deaths in garages have occurred even though the garage doors or windows have been open, suggesting that passive ventilation may not be adequate to reduce risk in semi-closed spaces. Smoke inhalation from all types of fires is the second leading cause of CO poisoning. Most immediate deaths from building fires are due to CO poisoning and therefore, fire fighters are at high risk. – The Internet Journal of Emergency & Intensive Care Medicine

…men and adults aged over 65 years were more likely to die from CO poisoning than other persons. The higher rate in men has been attributed to high-risk behaviors among men, such as working with fuel-burning tools or appliances. The higher rate among older persons has been attributed to the likelihood of older adults mistaking symptoms of CO poisoning for other conditions common among persons in this age group (e.g., influenza-like illnesses or fatigue). CO deaths were highest during colder months, likely because of increased use of gas-powered furnaces and use of alternative heating and power sources used during power outages, such as portable generators, charcoal briquettes, and propane stoves or grills. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The most common symptoms experienced were headache (37.5%), dizziness (18.0%), and nausea (17.3%). Severer symptoms were reported less often, including loss of consciousness (7.7%), shortness of breath (6.7%), and loss of muscle control (3.5%). According to medical records, 9.3% of patients in the NEISS-AIP sample reported that they had a CO detector at home, and 100% of those indicated that the detector had alerted them to the presence of CO. – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Many victims of CO poisoning die or suffer permanent, severe neurological injury despite treatment. In addition, as many as 50% of those who recover consciousness and survive may experience varying degree of more subtle but still disabling neuropsychiatric sequela. – The Internet Journal of Emergency & Intensive Care Medicine

Three campers’ family event became tragic when they were exposed to carbon monoxide fumes while relaxing inside their camper which was mounted on the bed of the family pick-up truck. Faulty air conditioner wires are believed to have caused toxic fumes to be released into the camper.

For information on this story please see:

It is important for campers to remember to periodically check all fuel lines for leaks. Line leaks can potentially release toxic fumes that can be deadly. Also it is important to be cautious when using propane appliances and generators, which release carbon monoxide that can be deadly.

Campers should follow the fourteen steps to help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. The fourteen steps were listed on a previous blog and can be read at:

Please remember that once you have taken the important steps to ensure that your your camper is carbon monoxide free, you must also be mindful of other fumes that you can be exposed to from other RVs and pick-up trailers. A week ago we blogged about a person that died from carbon monoxide fumes that were believed to have come from a neighboring RV.

Most parks have “no generator” zones which can make campers feel safer.

Prior to using your RV, remember to inspect all lines and hoses for cracks or leaks. If you are using a generator, make sure it is working properly and get a carbon monoxide detector. These tips will ensure that you leave a happy camper and return a happy camper.

Five days ago officials from the NASCAR race warned fans who were traveling with a recreational vehicle (RV) about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A local health department in Indiana was also at Indianapolis Motor Speedway handing out information on carbon monoxide poisoning.

This warning to fans came in response to the tragic death of a 43-year-old man Michael Thies of Ruma, IL who suffered from carbon monoxide exposure and whose three family members were hospitalized from carbon monoxide fumes. The carbon monoxide is believed to have entered their RV from the exhaust of other nearby RVs.

For further information on the story:;=6284464

Since summer has arrived more people are using their RVs to go to concerts, camp sites and sporting events. RVs are popular for traveling because they have beds, kitchens, refrigerators and small bathrooms. With these pleasures comes the responsibility of knowing the potential risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

Traditionally, winter is when carbon monoxide problems are most prevalent, however, this spring and summer have been particularly bad for such seasons.

It is important to know that there are several steps that RV users should take to ensure their safety. In our next blog, we will discuss the steps that RV users should consider to ensure that they are preventing carbon monoxide exposure.