A faulty water heater that spewed carbon monoxide sent three people to the hospital after they became ill from inhaling the potentially lethal gas. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the incident occurred early morning on Dec. 19. Paramedics responded to a home in the 31000 block of Avenida de la Vista after a 64-year-old woman reported feeling nauseous and lethargic, fire officials said. Paramedics also treated a man and another woman, both 26, who reported suffering the same symptoms. A cat in the home also appeared sick.
All three people in the home were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. They are said to be recovering from their symptoms. The Fire Authority’s hazardous materials team determined that a natural gas water heater in the home connected to a propane tank likely caused the elevated carbon monoxide levels. Officials say this incident is a reminder that all homes must be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.
Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces. Carbon monoxide can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. Some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to flu symptoms. People who are sleeping or drunk could die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they can even experience symptoms.
People of all age groups are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing disorders are more likely to get sick from carbon monoxide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 400 Americans die, about 4,000 are hospitalized and 20,000 visit emergency rooms each year as a result of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked fires.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
Here are some steps everyone can take to prevent CO poisoning at home:
- Install CO detectors in your home and check or replace the battery when daylight saving time changes twice a year.
- Have your heating system, water heater or other appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Don’t use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum or something else. This could cause the gas to build up in your home, cabin or camper.
If you have suffered CO poisoning as a result of defective product, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, cost of hospitalization and pain and suffering. An experienced product defect attorney can help you pursue your legal rights.