The Times West Virginian


February 16, 2014

Some simple steps can stop senseless deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning

The weather forecast for the coming week calls for a break in the snow and temperatures in the 50s for a few days.

Nevertheless, it’s no time to take our minds off a potentially deadly hazard of the heating season — carbon monoxide poisoning.

Marion County Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Chris McIntire said last week that since January, the 911 center has had 30 calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning.

“We’re very concerned about that,” he said. “It’s a very serious and dangerous issue.”

The figures, McIntire noted, are much higher than the five to 10 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning reported during a typical winter in the county.

“I think it’s due to the extreme cold that’s been happening,” he explained. “People are doing whatever it takes to stay warm, and I think it’s causing a lot of these issues.”

Since last Sunday, at least 10 people in Marion County have been hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Seven were workers at a Marcellus Shale pump station owned by Momentum M3 Appalachia Gas Gathering, LLC, on Toothman Run Road in the Grant Town area off Paw Paw Road. The incident took place last Sunday.

According to Fairview Volunteer Fire Department chief Steve Gillespie, workplace safety negligence was the cause.

“There was a big tent with no ventilation and no fans,” Gillespie said. The tent contained two gas welders, two generators, and a couple of large and small turbo heaters.

“That raised the CO levels,” he said. “The heaters have been running a week to bring the temperature up inside the tent to above 80 degrees.”

Emergency services shut down work in the tent, which was being operated by Jarrell Contractors, which operates out of North Carolina. The seven workers in the tent were transported to Ruby Memorial, Fairmont General and Monongalia General hospitals for carbon monoxide poisoning.

“These guys are lucky to be alive,” Gillespie said. He said that according to a company representative, all workers have now been released.

Emergency services were dispatched to a residence on Darby Street in Worthington at around 2:50 a.m. Tuesday.

“There was a malfunction in the heating system, and it was putting carbon monoxide into the house,” McIntire said;

Three people were taken to the hospital, with vehicles sent to Fairmont General, UPMC in Pittsburgh and Ruby Memorial.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced when fuel is burned. Typically, the gas is safely vented out of homes and work places.

Colder-than-average weather, though, has meant that people are running their heaters more, perhaps also choosing to bring outdoor-only heaters inside without creating proper ventilation. The cold can also damage vent pipes. Cars left warming up in an enclosed garage can also cause hazardous carbon monoxide levels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of needed oxygen. There are warning signs that must not be ignored. Initial symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness and nausea. After prolonged exposure, symptoms may intensify to include vomiting, confusion, collapse, loss of consciousness and muscle weakness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly.

“First thing, if you think you have it in the house, go outside of the house and call 911. We’ll send someone out with a detector to check,” McIntire said. “The best thing is to limit your exposure to it. If you have high enough levels, it can be deadly within 30 minutes or so.”

It’s best not to rely on feeling the symptoms. Carbon monoxide detectors, priced at about $15-20 each, can save lives. If the gas builds up in homes overnight when occupants are asleep, residents may not regain consciousness.

Be vigilant during the remainder of the heating season. Awareness and a few simple steps can stop the silent killer, carbon monoxide.

Text Only
  • Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech

    By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
    Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.

    April 24, 2014

  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads