April 23, 2014

Mason City deaths lead to warning about carbon monoxide

Carbon-monoxideAll Iowans are being reminded about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors after the weekend deaths of two people in Mason City. The town’s fire chief Bob Platts says there was a big push to put carbon monoxide detectors in homes 15 to 20 years ago, and if yours is that old, it’s overdue to be replaced.  “Carbon monoxide detectors, similar to smoke detectors, they do have a shelf life and when they’re used, they are good for about five years, so I’m guessing there’s probably a number of them out there that probably are not up to date,” he says.

Platts says if you are going to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, make sure it’s installed in a proper place. He suggests placing it in a sleeping area or a common area like in a hallway in between bedrooms. He says you should hang it about five feet off the floor because that’s about the level that C-O is mixing with air.

Platts says you won’t be able to notice carbon monoxide in your home without a detector. “It’s colorless and odorless, pretty much mixes with air, so it can be high, it can be low,” Platts says. A person that has carbon monoxide poisoning can have flu-like symptoms, which can be deceiving in the winter months when many people are already sick.

Carbon monoxide cases typically happen when the weather turns cold and people use their furnaces more, but Platts says carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t just something that happens in the winter as they’ve had calls in the every month of the year. “We see more in the summertime when people are grilling in their garage,” according to Platts. Also during the winter, if people are warming up their car in the garage, that can also produce C-O issues.

Platts says 67-year-old Thomas Jiminez and his 80-year-old wife, Carmen, were found dead over the weekend in their Mason City home after police were called on a welfare check. Platts says improper venting of a heating device led to high levels of carbon monoxide building up in the house.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)