Thousands of homeowners in the U. S. purchase backup power generators in case their electrical power is interrupted.  A significant and potentially fatal to humans and pets problem continually occurs with each severe storm and the use of gasoline and diesel generators.  The problem is that generators emit carbon monoxide.  Some generator owners fail to use the potentially life-saving machinery properly, but instead misuse them and turn them into life-threatening machines.

Serious injury and death in reports out of Maryland in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene indicate that no less than six people have been hospitalized and one person died due to carbon monoxide poisoning because they operated their gas or diesel powered generators indoors, either in their houses or garages, without proper ventilation.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is a major contributor to Traumatic Brain Injury.

Below is a link describing proper use of generators.

It is very sobering to realize how many people are affected by carbon monoxide every year. These incidents always go up during natural disasters or power outages, like the one affecting so many right now.

As much as we hear about carbon monoxide in the news, we rarely hear how many pets die. Smaller and more vulnerable, they are more likely to be overcome by these invisible fumes. Nebraska leads the country in carbon monoxide deaths and I was saddened to read that firefighters in Omaha reported that 9 dogs had died just last week from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pets are particularly vulnerable during cold weather when they may be confined to a garage and exposed to car fumes. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to carbon monoxide fumes than humans and any exposure to exhaust fumes is serious and sometimes fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning, even in very low doses, is cumulative and can lead to death.

The warning signs of carbon monoxide in your pets include: drowsiness, lethargy, weakness and/or incoordination, bright red color to skin and gums, dyspnea (trouble breathing), coma, abrupt death and occasionally chronic (low-grade, long-term) exposure may cause exercise intolerance, changes in gait (walking), and disturbances of normal reflexes. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your pet, remember, this is a warning sign that you and your family are at risk. Pets and small children are always the first affected.

If you care about your pets, install carbon monoxide detectors. They are an inexpensive way to protect you, your family and your pets. Don’t let your pet be the warning sign that you have carbon monoxide in your home.

– the legal times staff

January 6, 2009


DENVER — Investigators say a boiler vent damaged during a recent windstorm may have led to the high levels of carbon monoxide that left one college student dead.

Denver’s Chief Deputy Coroner Michelle Weiss-Samaras says 23-year-old Lauren Johnson died Monday after being taken from a third-floor unit at Josephine Place Apartments. Johnson and another woman were hospitalized.

University of Denver spokesman Jim Berscheidt says Johnson was a first-year graduate student at the school’s international-studies program. He says she was from Vancouver, Wash.

Authorities say a woman had called 911 shortly before 5 p.m. Monday saying she felt woozy.

Denver fire spokesman Lt. Phil Champagne says investigators found that carbon monoxide had leaked from a flue from the boiler. Champagne says whoever fixed the old flue vent cap did not attach it properly.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Date: 12/28/2008 7:52 AM

Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dozens of Liberian immigrants mourned Saturday at a house where seven members of their community died in a fire that a survivor said started when a kerosene heater spilled fuel and exploded as it was being moved outdoors.

Authorities have not released the names of all the victims, but fire survivor Harris Murphy said those trapped in the basement blaze were part of the large Liberian enclave in southwest Philadelphia.

The blaze broke out around 10:45 p.m. Friday in a three-story brick duplex and killed three adults and four children, including a 1-year-old boy, fire department Executive Chief Daniel Williams said.

Fire officials said six victims were found huddled together in the front of the basement, one of them cradling the baby. The seventh was found near the basement door.

The boy was later pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The medical examiner said three of the children died of smoke inhalation and one adult died of smoke inhalation and burns. Four victims were identified as Henry W. Gbokoloi, 54, of Yeadon; 8-year-old Ramere Markese Wright-Dosso; 6-year-old Mariam Iyanya Dosso, and 1-year-old Zyhire Xzavier Wright-Teah. The three children all lived with their mother nearby.

Four people survived the fire, including Murphy, 35, who lives down the street but was watching a movie with others at the home when the flames erupted.

Fire marshals have not yet released the cause of the blaze, but Murphy said it started after a woman added fuel to a kerosene heater and, when it became too hot, tried to move it outside through the basement’s only door.

Some of the flaming liquid spilled out and set the carpet on fire, Murphy said.

The heater then “exploded,” he said.

Murphy said he ran into a basement bathroom with Gbokoloi and some children, got in the tub and turned on the shower to try to wait out the flames until firefighters arrived. After a few moments, he said, he decided to make a break for it because the smoke was thickening.

A preliminary investigation showed the basement had one exit to the exterior and that the interior basement stairs had been removed, the fire department said in a statement. The fire commissioner said no smoke detectors were in the house.

Some Liberians who came to the house Saturday morning did not know who died but, because of the home’s location, feared they would know one or more of the victims. The neighborhood is home to many of the city’s 15,000 Liberian immigrants.

Anthony Kesselly, president of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas, lives nearby and said he knew Gbokoloi very well. He came to the house when he heard the news Saturday morning and was not surprised to see the growing crowd.

“We are very close-knit people,” Kesselly said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Date: 11/10/2008

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) _ Authorities in Brookings think a missing vent pipe was to blame in the apparent carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a man and his daughter found in their home early Sunday.

The victims are Grant Holmstrum, 54, and Janna Holmstrum, 21.

Police Capt. Jeff Miller said the call came in shortly after 2 a.m. At first, police didn’t know what happened to the victims and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on them for some time, he said

The carbon monoxide affected some officers as well, Miller said. “Four officers also were taken and admitted to the hospital for exposure,” he said. “They were treated and released later that morning.”

Carbon monoxide has no detectable odor. Early symptoms such as headache, nausea and fatigue often are mistaken for the flu. It’s the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S.

People should consider getting their heating system checked out, Miller said.

“Especially, I guess, if you have an older furnace, it’s something that would be a good idea to have it periodically checked and certainly put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home,” Miller said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Date: 11/8/2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ The Coast Guard says a 52-year-old barge worker has died after being found unresponsive on the ship as it traveled near New Haven Harbor.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Ellen Phillips says it appears that John Campagno died of carbon monoxide poisoning. An autopsy is planned.

Crew members on the barge tried to revive Campagno, but he was pronounced dead Saturday morning at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Authorities say his identifications listed addresses in North Carolina and Florida.

The Coast Guard says Campagno apparently worked and slept in a poorly ventilated section of the barge that contains a generator and heating unit.

The barge is owned by Burnham Associates Dredging & Marine Contractors of Salem, Mass.


Information from: The Day,

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.