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Old 12-04-2014, 11:44 AM   #1
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Two tragic deaths due to carbon monoxide

A father and his three children boondocking full-time in a 5er suffered carbon monoxide poisoning last night. The father and the youngest child, an 11 year old girl, have died. The other children have been hospitalized, and apparently have been airlifted from the Duluth hospital to the nearest hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

The source of carbon monoxide has not been identified in news reports. While the news does mention that a generator was running near the trailer, winds in the area were over 20 mph last night and an accumulation of carbon monoxide from the generator would seem unlikely. Temperatures were in the single digits.

Authorities identify victims of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning | Duluth News Tribune

I'm sharing this because carbon monoxide is a hazard that is frequently dismissed as far-fetched on these forums. We are unlikely to learn whether the source was, in this case, a catalytic heater, a stovetop burner or oven being used to keep the trailer warm, a furnace with a burned-out heat exchanger, or exhaust from the generator. There have been fatalities from all these sources.

We will probably never find out whether they were in the habit of leaving a window and a vent open an inch or so for fresh air, but didn't because it was so cold and windy. We will probably never find out whether they thought they could get by with two or three 1500w electric heaters.

I wonder what they spent the $700 on that they saved by not buying a new furnace.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:52 AM   #2
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Tragic. CO detectors are a NECESSITY, not a suggestion. They're cheap and effective.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:10 PM   #3
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So totally preventable, that's a real shame.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:12 PM   #4
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CO Detectors, Smoke Detectors, LP Detectors are all cheap insurance. Make sure you put in fresh batteries at the beginning of the season, and stay safe!
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:30 PM   #5
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The really deadly thing about CO (carbon monoxide) is how it binds to the hemoglobin in blood. Even if there's plenty of oxygen in the air, your red cells stop being able to pick it up once they've gotten saturated with monoxide. Opening a window won't prevent CO poisoning though it might make it progress more slowly. Eliminating the CO is a necessity. We had neighbors die after having a faulty chimney that had been left "as is" for years.

The after effects of carbon monoxide poisoning don't completely go away until your body completely replaces your entire blood supply.

Agreed - a detector is a CHEAP insurance policy - one treatment in a hyperberic chamber? Last I heard it was $20K.

Paula
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:35 PM   #6
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I have written several times about my cousin, his wife and 3 year old daughter who died in a CO tragedy at their new to them summer home in NH. Not RV related but the after analysis showed that they probably thought they had all come down with the flu, were very sick, did not go out of the cabin. No one checked on them for several days, as they were "the new people" and no one knew them or their habits.

So, I too will keep beating the drum for extreme care when dealing with RV furnaces and especially unvented cat heaters.

And CO detectors are great, but having safe equipment is the first line of defense, not detection after the fact.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:04 PM   #7
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How awful!


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Old 12-04-2014, 03:17 PM   #8
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Good reminder. Sad situation that was totally preventable.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:19 PM   #9
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It really saddens me to hear stories like this. These things are so preventable.

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Old 12-04-2014, 03:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
And CO detectors are great, but having safe equipment is the first line of defense, not detection after the fact.
Yes, but even if you believe your equipment is new and safe, a detector will let you know when/if that condition changes. So don't count on new equipment and think you don't need the detector too.

CO Detectors are now standard in all homes in our area. When we bought our house, which was built in the early 70s and is all electric (no gas appliances at all, even electric furnace) we were still required to install a CO Detector to pass inspection for the sale.
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:03 PM   #11
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Co detectors and smoke detectors are required by local code here too...not only new homes. They can enforce at time of sale, or if someone official comes in. Not sure if the gas company is required to report, but I had them in last week for odd lazy flame on the stove, furnace and h2o heater. They checked for CO, smoke detector presence and proper locations.

BTW, the newer ultrasonic humidifiers cause an orange flame on appliances. Not a problem, but I had never heard of this before. Googled it and sure enough! Just an FYI.
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Old 12-04-2014, 06:32 PM   #12
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We had a leak on the maiden voyage our PanAm a few years ago. A brand new detector alerted us to a leak in a brand new furnace in a brand new Airstream! Saved all our lives! As practice, I replace smoke, lap, and Co every season, not just the batteries! I read an article a few years ago that UL labs suggest this where heat extremes, dust, high humidity is a reality. I spend less than $100 a year for this peace of mind. Yes we do have catalytic fireplaces!
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:03 PM   #13
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Also goes without saying that you need one in your home as well.

So sad to hear about this.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:31 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
Yes, but even if you believe your equipment is new and safe, a detector will let you know when/if that condition changes. So don't count on new equipment and think you don't need the detector too.
I completely agree. I was just noting that relying completely on a CO detector to pick up problems is not the best policy, first line of defense is good modern appliances and equipment, and then back that up with a good CO detector.
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