Marion County Officials Concerned About Ongoing CO Leaks - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Marion County Officials Concerned About Ongoing CO Leaks

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FAIRMONT -

10 people have been taken to area hospitals in just a couple of days due to high carbon monoxide levels.

Marion County officials said the number of these instances are alarming.

"This year, from January first until now, we have had over 30 instances with carbon monoxide," said Sabrina Haught, Marion County 911 Center.

Emergency personnel said the winter weather could be to blame.

"People are trying to stay warm and frequently they don't get their furnace checked. They block their ventilation of their flux, of their heaters," said Ed Sparks, MCRS Hazmat Tox-Medic.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas and it can cause sudden illness and death.

The most common symptoms are headaches, dizziness, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. 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.

"They are being poisoned," Sparks said. "It's very insidious. It pierces other symptoms so its really easy for them to get sick."

CO poisoning can happen to anyone and anywhere.

The Centers for Disease Control said more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning every year. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.

"They can't see it, they can't smell it. They just go to sleep and it produces death," Haught said.

When crews arrive at the scene of a possible carbon monoxide leak, there are several steps they need to take.

"First we need to determine how much oxygen is inside of your blood and how much C-O is in your blood. The Life Pack 15 is capable of using a pulse oximeter," said Darren Culp, EMT. "You just put your finger inside and there is a sensor in there. Through the nail-beds it will tell me what your level of CO is in your blood."

If your level of C-O is higher than 30, you will need to go to the hospital.

"Carbon monoxide binds with the blood 280 times easier than oxygen. The body quickly becomes starved for oxygen," said Sparks.

CO can also combine with proteins in tissues, destroying the tissues and causing injury and death.

The Marion County 911 Center encourages residents to purchase a CO detector for their home.

"They're not that expensive. I called Walmart the other day and they run from 15 dollars up to 50 dollars. That much can save and protect your family," Haught said.

For information on how to keep your home CO free, click on the link.