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Seven exposed to carbon monoxide

October 10, 2000

Seven exposed to carbon monoxide



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


Seven people living in a Hagerstown duplex were hospitalized Tuesday afternoon after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, according to Hagerstown Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Ron Horn said the fire department received a call from Lori McClanahan, who lives at 43 Elizabeth St. with her four-year-old daughter, complaining that her carbon monoxide detector had activated.

Horn said McClanahan told him she had turned on her gas furnace three days ago and had felt sick ever since.

She got a carbon monoxide detector from a family member Tuesday and when she brought it home it went off immediately, said Horn.

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The same thing happened when the fire department came to investigate, he said.

"As soon as I walked inside my CO meter went into alarm," said Horn.

He said the fumes in the home had reached dangerous levels.

Horn said he believed a cracked flue or clogged chimney may have allowed the fumes to fill 43 Elizabeth St. and seep into the other half of the duplex, 45 Elizabeth St.

He said people should have their furnaces cleaned and properly maintained to prevent such accidents.

People should be aware of warning signs such as headaches, nausea and fatigue, he said. As levels of carbon monoxide increase, vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death result, he said.

Horn said all the victims were taken to the Washington County Hospital. Only McClanahan's name was available but a hospital spokeswoman said she had no record of the woman being treated there.

Washington County Hospital does not provide condition reports on patients if their names are not provided.

Carbon monoxide can kill you before you are aware it's there because it's a colorless and odorless chemical, said Mike Weller, fire safety instructor for Hagerstown Fire Department.

While everyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, unborn babies, children, senior citizens or people with coronary or respiratory problems are at the greatest risk, he said.

"Anyone who heats a home with fuel that burns such as oil, natural gas, kerosene or wood should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in their sleeping area," said Weller.

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