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Family becomes ill due to carbon monoxide leak

By Gheni_Platenburg
Aug. 24, 2010 at 3:24 a.m.

The Victoria Fire Department investigates a gas leak in the 4800 block of Aster Lane on Tuesday.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.

WHERE IS CO FOUND?

CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing it.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CO POISONING?

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR CO POISONING?

All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning. Certain groups - unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems - are more susceptible to its effects. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and the Victoria Fire Department

A water heater may be to blame for a Tuesday morning carbon monoxide leak in the 4800 block of Aster Lane.

Around 9:30 a.m., the Victoria Fire Department and Center Point Energy were called to investigate the cause of a carbon monoxide leak after elevated levels of the gas triggered a carbon monoxide detector inside the home.

The family had already evacuated the home by the time crews arrived.

During the investigation, Lt. Greg Navjar of the Victoria Fire Department said crews found all the carbon monoxide levels in the home to be normal except for the area around the water heater, which gave off a slight reading.

However, Navjar said appliances like water heaters and furnaces normally give off small, non-hazardous levels of the gas.

The family was allowed to re-enter the home after the 45 minute investigation concluded.

Three people complained of nausea, dizziness and lightheadedness, which are symptoms that coincide with carbon monoxide poisoning.

They were transported to the hospital via private vehicle.

No other homes were affected.

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