Roanoke Fire-EMS offers tips to protect families following carbon monoxide poisoning injuries

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 7:08 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Fire-EMS is encouraging everyone to learn more about an invisible killer, carbon monoxide.

The push to educate families comes after a carbon monoxide poisoning sent eight people to the hospital Sunday. Some of those patients had life-threatening levels of CO in their blood streams.

Neighbors along Thelma Street in Northwest Roanoke at first didn’t know what was happening when the emergency vehicles started lining their street around midnight Sunday. “It just seems like as soon as one would come, another one would pull off and another one would come back. And at one point they were lined up down the street to right here,” neighbor Ashley Yibale said.

Flashing lights drew folks like the Saunders outside onto their front steps.

“We were concerned for our neighbors because people just kept getting wheeled out into the ambulances,” Carol Ann Saunders said. Roanoke Fire-EMS says they arrived just after midnight and found eight people with carbon monoxide poisoning. “They were responding to the house right here and they were all lined up this back street up the hill,” Kayla Saunders said.

The eight people were inside a garage using a propane tank with a heating element when they got sick, Roanoke Fire-EMS said.

“They actually had a person have a syncopal episode or he passed out right there in front of them,” Lt. CJ Arrington said.

Once crews got to the scene, it was all hands on deck to get the family treatment.

“To have that many patients on scene it was just a different ball game,” Arrington said. While Fire-EMS says they don’t normally see this many patients on a CO call, everyone needs to protect themselves against carbon monoxide.

One simple way to do so is by purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm.

“You can see smoke, you can smell smoke, you can’t do the same for carbon monoxide. So you want to make sure you have a detector in your house if you have gas heat or appliances in your home,” Kristen Perdue with Roanoke Fire-EMS said.

Neighbors along Thelma Street said they are now thinking about new ways to protect their families. “You know are we prepared if something like that were to happen in our own house,” Ashley Yibale said.

The department said not all space heaters create a carbon monoxide threat, but in this particular case the family was using a heater meant for an industrial space.

That’s why the department is encouraging everyone to check over their user manuals before flipping the switch and creating an unintentional danger.

Roanoke Fire-EMS offers free carbon monoxide and smoke alarms all for free if you live in the city. You just have to call 540-853-2327 to get your detectors.

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