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Monday, January 26, 2015

Riverdale Family Exposed to High Levels of Carbon Monoxide


MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

A Riverdale family was apparently exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) overnight and became sick.  Fortunately, the family woke up and was alert enough to leave the home.  They went to a nearby clinic as all six family members were suffering from flu like symptoms.

At around 8:30 am today a clinic associated with a local hospital notified the Fire/EMS Department they were treating six people that arrived at their facility initially complaining of headaches and nausea.  After some quick testing the clinic determined they were all suffering from CO exposure. 

The clinic provided the families address and the Fire/EMS Department responded to the home in the 6000 block of Sheridan Street.  The home was first searched for anyone else still inside.   A sick dog was removed from the house to the exterior and a fresh air environment.  The dog is currently doing fine and is with firefighters awaiting for County Animal Management officials or a family member.

Firefighters detected 200 parts per million (ppm) of CO which is considered very high.  A normal CO reading would be between 0 – 35 ppm.  Any reading over 35 ppm is considered unhealthy. 

The family told hospital staff that they just had a new water heater installed yesterday.  Firefighters turned off all appliances and gas to the house and have notified the gas company of the situation.



CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas and is referred to as the “The Silent Killer.”  The properties of CO (colorless, odorless and tasteless) make it nearly impossible to detect without monitoring equipment. A working CO detector is the only method residents can use to detect the presence of CO. CO detectors are inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores.  We recommend the use of 10-year CO detectors.

CO results from incomplete oxidation of carbon in combustion and/or the inadequate ventilation of CO after normal combustion. Sources of CO include unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages.  A broken or malfunctioning ventilation system for these appliances is often found to be at fault for the release of CO into the home.

CO Poisoning Prevention Tips

• In Prince George’s County, it is now a law that you have at least one battery-powered CO detector on each level of your home and near sleeping areas, and make sure it is more than 5 feet from fuel-burning appliances to prevent false alarms.  The Fire/EMS Department strongly encourages the use of a 10-year CO detector.
• Ensure that fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and working according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Inspect these appliances for adequate ventilation.
• Do not burn charcoal inside your house, even in the fireplace.
• Do not use gasoline-powered generators inside of your house.
• Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting.
• Do not block or seal shut exhaust flues or ducts for appliances, such as water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.

If It Happens to You

• Never ignore your CO detectors if it sounds.
• Determine if anyone in the household is experiencing symptoms of CO exposure symptoms such as a headache, nausea, drowsiness or confusion. Call 911.
• Exit your home. Leave the CO detector where it is.
• Do not return to your home until the emergency personnel have arrived, the home is aired out and your CO alarm returns to normal operation.

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