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Close call prompts reminder for CO detectors

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Five people, including three children, were found to have carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday morning when Bemidji firefighters responded to a call northeast of Bemidji.

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All are expected to recover.

While the public is urged to always have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes, this is the time of year when those recommendations become stronger.

Once it gets cold, homes are more likely to be closed up to keep out the cold, and, therefore, lock in potentially dangerous fumes, said Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer.

Carbon monoxide has been called the "silent killer" because it is invisible, odorless and colorless. It is a gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely.

Beltrami County has in recent years seen the tragic effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In January 2010, Colleen Lynn Jennings, 50, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an incident that sickened seven others, including three emergency responders.

One month later, four people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and were taken by ambulance to North Country Regional Hospital, where they were treated and released. There was a carbon monoxide detector in the home but it did not have batteries.

The Bemidji Fire Department received a call at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday from a residence northeast of Bemidji. Two adults and three children were found to have potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

Firefighters tested the air in the home and determined that high levels of carbon monoxide were present.

They then used recently acquired equipment that allows them to test the levels of carbon monoxide in a person. Four of the five people in the residence had potentially dangerous levels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches.

High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million, is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.

E 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.

E 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.

E 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure.

E 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.

E 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.

E 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.

E 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.

E 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.

E 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.

Five people, including three children, were found to have carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday morning when Bemidji firefighters responded to a call northeast of Bemidji.

All are expected to recover.

While the public is urged to always have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes, this is the time of year when those recommendations become stronger.

Once it gets cold, homes are more likely to be closed up to keep out the cold, and, therefore, lock in potentially dangerous fumes, said Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer.

Carbon monoxide has been called the "silent killer" because it is invisible, odorless and colorless. It is a gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely.

Beltrami County has in recent years seen the tragic effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In January 2010, Colleen Lynn Jennings, 50, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an incident that sickened seven others, including three emergency responders.

One month later, four people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and were taken by ambulance to North Country Regional Hospital, where they were treated and released. There was a carbon monoxide detector in the home but it did not have batteries.

The Bemidji Fire Department received a call at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday from a residence northeast of Bemidji. Two adults and three children were found to have potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

Firefighters tested the air in the home and determined that high levels of carbon monoxide were present.

They then used recently acquired equipment that allows them to test the levels of carbon monoxide in a person. Four of the five people in the residence had potentially dangerous levels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches.

High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million, is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.

- 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.

- 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.

- 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure.

- 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.

- 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.

- 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.

- 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.

- 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.

- 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.

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Bethany Wesley
(218) 333-9200 x337
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