8 Sickened by Carbon Monoxide

By Karen Araiza
|  Saturday, Dec 14, 2013  |  Updated 8:55 AM EDT
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Four people, including two rescuers, were sickened by carbon monoxide this morning in South Philadelphia.

NBC10.com

Four people, including two rescuers, were sickened by carbon monoxide this morning in South Philadelphia.

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For the second time this morning, Philadelphia rescue crews have rushed people to the hospital after they were sickened by carbon monoxide. At one home, two emergency workers were also overcome and had to be hospitalized.

The first incident was in the 700 block of South Hutchinson Street in South Philadelphia. Just before 5 a.m., firefighters found two men inside a home. Both were unresponsive. The carbon monoxide threat was so bad there, two of the firefighters had to also be hospitalized and neighbors were asked to open up their windows.

In the city's Lawncrest section, around 7:15 a.m. four more people were taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Carbon monoxide [CO] is so dangerous because it is a colorless, odorless gas. CO is found in combustion fumes produced by motor vehicles, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood and gas ranges and heating systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, the most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

"Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms," the CDC website warns.

Carbon monoxide kills people when too much of the gas replaces the oxygen in their blood.

Here are some tips to prevent CO poisoning from the CDC: 

Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don't have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator's cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
  • When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the CSA GroupExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

You can find more information on prevention on the CDC website.

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