Breath of Fresh Air

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Carbon monoxide seeped through a Panama City house at 902 Jeremy Lane in Forest Park for almost six hours Wednesday night, slowly poisoning the family of five inside. Around 3 a.m. Amanda Ruddick woke up and immediately knew something was wrong.

"I remember waking up and feeling very sick and disoriented, so I got up to see what was going on and I thought it was just me, but I knew it was something serious."

The night before Amanda's husband, James, had been running fluid through their van's engine and forgot to turn off the car before the family went to bed. Amanda wants others to learn from a mistake anyone can make.

"You can think you don't have gas appliances, or whatever, and you wouldn't have a need for a carbon monoxide detector, but we found out last night that you do need one."

Amanda Stiffler with the Panama City Fire Department says they respond to several carbon monoxide poisonings each year. She also says it could be easily prevented with detectors.

"Carbon monoxide detects incomplete burning, basically what it does and carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, you're not going to see it or smell it. Basically, it's just going to affect you by making you ill."

It's best to never run any engine in the house or garage, including generators. Amanda Ruddick says you can't always prevent accidents, but you can be better prepared.

"Your child can turn your vehicle on, you could walk off, as we did on an accident, and if the garage is down, it can come right into your home."

The best place to install a carbon monoxide detector is above the bed, a lesson the Ruddick family will forever remember.

Amanda, her husband James and the three young children were all taken to a local hospital where they were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and later released.

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Tips

DO have your fuel-burning appliances -- including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves -- inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season. Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.

DO choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers’ instructions.

DO read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel burning.

DO call EPA’s IAQ INFO Clearinghouse (1-800-438-4318) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (1-800-638-2772) for more information on how to reduce your risks from CO and other combustion gases and particles.

DON’T idle the car in a garage -- even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.

DON’T use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

DON’T ever use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace.

DON'T sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.

DON’T use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.

DON’T ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/coftsht.html (United States Environmental Protection Agency).


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