Carbon monoxide leak hospitalizes five in York City
A carbon monoxide leak in a York City home could have ended differently had one resident not called 911.
"(It was) very close to a different outcome, a tragic outcome this morning," York City Fire Chief David Michaels said Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Michaels said emergency crews arrived at a home in the 700 block of South Pershing Avenue and found five people, three of them unconscious, early Wednesday morning.
The residents were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, he said.
On Wednesday morning, Michaels said one of the five, a woman, had been released from York Hospital.
The other four, two adults and two children, were taken from York Hospital to the University of Maryland Medical Center for treatment, according to the chief.
He said they are expected to survive.
Poisoning: Michaels said crews were sent to the home for a report of someone unconscious at the home at 3:50 a.m. Wednesday.
"When we got there, we noticed that there was actually three people that were unconscious," he said.
A man in the home had called 911, according to the chief, who said the man seemed impaired.
It was then that crews were able to piece together the situation, Michaels said. The chief said crews entered the home with carbon monoxide meters.
He said as soon as they went into the house, the meters went off.
Michaels said detectors will typically go off at about 15 parts per million. On Wednesday, the meters topped off at 2,000 ppm, according to the chief.
"That's how dangerous this was," he said.
Additionally, two dogs were treated at the scene, according to Michaels. Often animals will be affected by the carbon monoxide before people, according to the chief.
Michaels said it looks as though a blocked vent in the furnace caused the leak. Columbia Gas was called to turn off the gas and flag the appliance, the chief said.
The home, he said, had a carbon monoxide detector.
“It is our belief that this detector went off yesterday, they thought it malfunctioned and took the battery out,” he said.
Crews were not sure how long the leak had affected the residents because they were not sure exactly when the furnace went into use.
"It definitely was a dangerous environment," he added.
Michaels said the department was out there for about two hours to help ventilate the home, which is now safe to be in.
The department typically gets calls about carbon monoxide, however, Wednesday morning was different.
“To find (carbon monoxide) levels this high, and people this sick, is not as common for us," he said.
Carbon monoxide: Michaels said carbon monoxide leaks typically happen at gas-fired appliances.
With the colder weather, furnaces are being turned on to heat homes, the chief said.
The chief urged people to call 911 if their detectors go off.
Those experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning will start to feel flu-like systems, Michaels said.
They will get a headache, experience dizziness, or feel nauseous or tired, according to Michaels.
On Facebook, the fire department encouraged residents to have their heating systems serviced by a qualified technician yearly, make sure gas appliances are properly ventilated and install carbon monoxide detectors.
York County Coroner Pam Gay said there were three accidental carbon monoxide deaths in 2017. There were five other carbon monoxide deaths in 2017 that were suicides, she said.
In 2018, there have been two carbon monoxide deaths, she said. Both of them were suicides, according to Gay.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.