Five people, including three children, were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma following a “carbon monoxide emergency,” Friday in West River, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.
A 54-year-old woman, a 28-year-old woman, a 6-year-old girl, a 3-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old boy were taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for injuries believed to be non-life-threatening, fire officials said. The victims were treated at the facility's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.
Occupants of the home began feeling sick and alerted firefighters to a possible carbon monoxide emergency, fire officials said. The residents said they had been feeling the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning since the previous day. Simultaneously, the home’s furnace had reportedly been malfunctioning. The residents left the house and waited for firefighters at a neighbor’s home.
Firefighters entered the home experiencing the suspected leak and found carbon monoxide levels frequently at 400 parts per million or higher, reaching a peak of 536. People exposed to such levels will feel frontal headaches within an hour or two that may progress to dizziness and nausea. The exposure becomes life threatening within three hours.
Fire officials warn residents to double check carbon monoxide alarms, particularly in the winter, as closed windows can prevent proper ventilation, and malfunctioning heating equipment can produce elevated carbon monoxide levels. Since the gas is colorless and odorless, exposure can go undetected. Symptoms can often feel like cold or flu symptoms initially, also making identifying exposure to the gas more difficult in winter months.