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Delta Township – June 5, 2015 – At 5:05am, the Delta Fire Department was dispatched for an unknown problem/1 person fell, 1 with difficulty in breathing at the Westbury Lake apartment complex. Two ambulances and a fire truck responded. Upon arrival, crews conducted air monitoring and found up to 144 PPM (parts per million) of carbon monoxide in several units within one building.

Two people were transported to the emergency room in stable condition and one was treated and released. Eight of the sixteen apartment units within the building were immediately evacuated for high levels of carbon monoxide found. Four of those units evacuated have now been reoccupied. Crews continue to ventilate the building. No CO alarms were found in the affected apartment units.

The Delta Township Fire Department, Grand Ledge Area Fire Department, and Lansing Township Fire Department were all involved in the incident. The cause of the carbon monoxide is currently being investigated by Consumers Power.

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Products and equipment powered by internal combustion engines such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers also produce CO, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC).

The USCPSC also states that because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including: mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA), CO levels above 50 PPM are considered unsafe. Over and eight hour period, exposures to CO levels of 35 PPM and above are also unsafe.

To help protect yourself and your family, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends:

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.
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