Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be the silent killer


A 20-year-old boy and his 22-year-old sister were called home to Pocatello, Idaho last month while serving church missions in other states. The two young missionaries were told that their entire family, their father, mother and two younger brothers had died during the night of what looked to be carbon monoxide poisoning.

I can’t imagine the tragic loss of almost an entire family, especially for these two young survivors. Their strength during this tragedy has been amazing.

“It’s been hard, it’s been sad, but at the same time it’s been the most peaceful, spiritual experience I think I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Jensen Parrish told a local television station.

Of course all of this made me wonder how often this silent killer takes the lives of Americans.

According to one source approximately 150 Americans die from CO2 poisoning each year.

The odorless gas is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent killer’ and is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. The gas is produced by fuels such as gas, coal, oil or wood when they do not burn fully.

How can you tell if you are being poisoned by carbon monoxide?

Well, the symptoms can be similar to those of food poisoning and influenza and include dizziness, vomiting and stomach pain.

However, if it takes place while you are sleeping, you may not become aware of those symptoms.

My hope is that through this tragedy and others like it, we can become more educated in ways to prevent this deadly poison from entering our homes.

Here are some suggestions from NBC News:

• Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

• Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

• Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home, cabin or camper.

• Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.

• Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home or cabin.

• Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum or anything else. This kind of patch can make carbon monoxide build up in your home, cabin or camper.

Please take heed to these warnings and keep your family safe. We don’t want to see a tragedy like this in Lake Stevens.

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