Eight people escape carbon monoxide poisonings

December 3, 2013
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SILENT KILLER

Janesville Fire Department Lt. Kent Shea offered these tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

— Don’t leave your vehicle running in the garage even with the door open. Back it into the driveway so the exhaust fumes—which contain high levels of carbon monoxide—don’t seep into your home.

— Have your furnace checked annually. This will eliminate carbon build up on the igniter next to the burner. If the flame is yellow, that’s incomplete combustion that will create carbon monoxide. The furnace flame should burn orange or blue.

— Call 911 if anyone in the family is experiencing carbon monoxide symptoms, which include headache and nausea.

— Install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home.

— Make sure to check the expiration date on the detectors because sensors in the monitors go bad after seven years.

“The majority of our calls are false readings—when they sound off due to a battery problem or a sensor gone bad. But in at least six of the calls we had recently, 50 percent of those readings were accurate,” Shea said.

— Clear furnace and gas dryer vents if they are on the side of the house where snow can cover the exhaust openings.

JANESVILLE—A Janesville family of four escaped what could have been deadly carbon monoxide poisoning early Monday morning.

They’re not alone.

Eight Janesville residents were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after firefighters responded to at least six carbon monoxide calls between Saturday and Monday, Lt. Kent Shea said.

The most recent call came in at 4:30 a.m. Monday in the 300 block of Rockshire Drive, according to a dispatcher at the Rock County Communications Center.

Dean Latka called for help because everyone in his home had headaches and nausea.

“I wake up at 4:15 to go to work. When my alarm went off, my wife already was up complaining she was really hot and had a bad headache,” he said.

That’s when Latka noticed his mouth was dry and that he had a headache, too.

Realizing something was wrong, he woke his children. His daughter was whining in her sleep and both she and her brother had headaches, Latka said.

“At that point, we got everybody out of the house and gave the fire department a call,” Latka said.

Latka; his wife, Kristie; and their two children ages 10 and 12, were taken to Beloit Memorial Hospital, where they were given oxygen for a couple hours before being released. Everybody in the family had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their blood.

There was no carbon monoxide detector in the Latka’s east side home.

“We had one previously, but it had gone bad, and (I) just never replaced it,” Latka said.

The first thing he did after getting released from the hospital was buy two carbon monoxide detectors—one for each level of his family’s home. He said the $70 expense is worth the peace of mind and safety. He said every home should have carbon monoxide detectors.

“Definitely have them so you know if something is going on. And if people are having nausea and headaches, get out of the house and let the fire department come and check it out,” Latka said.

The source of the carbon monoxide in Latka’s home has not yet been determined.

Had the parts per million of carbon monoxide been higher in the home, family members could have died in their sleep, Shea said.

“It’s a silent killer,” he said, “with no smell and no taste.”

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