Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Family escapes poison air

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANDERSON TOWNSHIP — A family of five wound up semiconscious after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide Monday morning.

        Kevin Kelley, 36, of the 1600 block of Beechshire Drive, said he heard his carbon monoxide detector go off, then hurried to get his three children out of bed and ready to leave the house. He called 911, but when paramedics arrived, Mr. Kelley; his wife, Kerry; and their three children were in various stages of incapacitation.

        “We got a call for a family not feeling well,” said Lt. Fred Buop of Anderson Township Fire and Rescue.

        “When we got there, three family members were in the doorway.”

        All five were taken to University Hospital, where they were treated at the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine. They were placed in an airtight chamber and exposed to a pressurized atmosphere filled with 100 percent oxygen, which increases oxygen levels.

        They were later released.

        “All five of us are fine,” Mr. Kelley said Monday night. “We're very fortunate.”

        Investigators say the carbon monoxide reading at the home was 300 parts per million. Lt. Buop said Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines are a maximum 50 parts per million in an eight-hour period.

        “We prefer zero, of course.” Lt. Buop said. “That's ideal.”

        The Kelley family planned to spend Monday night with relatives and have their furnace — the suspected problem — replaced today

        “My wife worked very quickly to get the kids out the door,” Mr. Kelley said. “The people from the fire department were great.”


               Carbon monoxide is a gaseous toxin produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Poisoning can occur from exposure to coal, oil, wood and gas stoves and ovens; kerosene or propane heaters; automobiles; construction tools; gasoline generators; or fire.

        Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure are:

        • Persistent flu-like symptoms such as headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness.

        • Prolonged poisoning can lead to confusion, fainting, convulsions and death.

        Source: University Hospital's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine


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