At 8:02 a.m, Friday, January 9, 2015, Moorefield Ambulance 623 responded to 23396 Summerstown Place in Sterling for an injury from a fall. Dulles South Engine 619 also responded and upon arrival encountered two unconscious adults inside the residence. A carbon monoxide (CO) alarm carried on the ambulance’s aid bag began to sound, alerting crews to unsafe levels of CO in the home. Both patients were rescued from the structure and additional units requested. CO readings on the main level and basement were found to be at dangerous levels with the source of the CO isolated to a faulty furnace. Fire and rescue units secured the utilities and ventilated the structure. A total of three patients were treated and transported to Inova Hospital at Lansdowne with serious but non-life threatening CO exposure. No injuries to public safety personnel were reported.
Carbon monoxide is very dangerous. CO is commonly referred to as the “Silent Killer” because it goes undetected due to its invisible odorless, and tasteless nature. The easiest way to protect yourself is to practice safe behaviors and install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Per the Virginia International Residential Code, CO alarms should be installed in any dwelling in which fuel-fired appliances are installed and/or have attached garages. To ensure the safety of you and your family:
Install CO alarms in a central location outside sleeping areas and on every level of the home.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
Select a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory and follow manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
Test the alarms once a month and replace units as recommended.
If CO alarm sounds immediately move to fresh air and call 9-1-1.
Have fireplaces and heating equipment serviced annually.
Ensure dampers for fireplaces and fuel burning stoves remain open until the fire is completely out.
During and after a snowstorm, clear dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace vents of snow build-up.
Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open.
Ensure gas generators are located in a well-ventilated area outside the home away from doors or windows.
Occupants of homes should be aware of the warning signs of CO exposure and immediately call 9-1-1 for help. Possible signs of exposure often mimic the flu and can include any of the following:
Shortness of breath
For additional information about carbon monoxide and other safety topics visit www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal or contact Lisa Braun, Public Education Manager, at 571-258-3222.