Guilford County, NC - Boone investigators have attributed carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning to the deaths of three people who died within weeks of one another in the same Best Western Hotel room. In light of these events, the Guilford County Fire Marshal's Office strongly has reiterated commonly-professed tips on how to prevent exposure to the gas.
Homeowners should ensure they have fuel-burning equipment inspected by a professional every year, open their fireplace dampers before using the fireplace, pull their vehicles outside of their garages before starting the ignition, use portable generators only outside and install a carbon monoxide detector in the home.
According to WFMY News 2 contributor Tom Garcia of Southern Evergreen, carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased for as cheaply as $20 at local hardware stores. He said price does not correlate with effectiveness, and both battery-operated and plug-in options are available for purchase. Though carbon monoxide detectors are not wired to notify the fire department when they go off, they emit a piercingly loud sound when they detect carbon monoxide.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include those that often are mistaken for the flu, but without the fever. Low-level exposure symptoms include nausea, headache, shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness. High-level exposure to carbon monoxide can cause mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.
Guilford Co. Chief Fire Investigator Chad Garrett said to abide by state code, all new homes and apartments must be built with a carbon monoxide detector on each floor and a smoke detector in each bedroom.
Garrett said the Guilford Co. Fire Marshal's office responds to three to five calls per day from homeowners whose carbon monoxide detectors are going off. He advised people to evacuate their homes immediately, if the alarms go off and to contact their doctors about potential exposure.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 150 people die from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths.