East Rockhill Township, PA – Carbon monoxide poisoning is the suspected cause of a woman’s death Wednesday afternoon in her East Rockhill Township home, authorities said.
Susan Hess, 51, was pronounced dead by the Bucks County coroner’s office in the home in the 2000 block of Old Bethlehem Pike after firefighters and police responded at 4:06 p.m., according to a Pennridge police news release.
Her husband, Tony Hess, 54, and son, Tony Hess, 31, were taken to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, but police gave no details on the men’s conditions. They were later transferred to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, New York, “for hyperbaric oxygen therapy due to their carbon monoxide levels,” police said.
Emergency responders detected a strong gas odor possibly caused by a faulty appliance in the home, the release states.
“It’s probable this was carbon monoxide poisoning, but we’re investigating and won’t know for certain until toxicology results come back,” Bucks County Coroner Meredith Buck said
Police said a relative found the Hess family and called 911.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas emitted from gas- and oil-burning appliances such as furnaces, generators and automobiles. When inhaled, it deprives the body of the oxygen it needs to function.
Symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, weakness, dizziness and confusion. The blood pressure rises, trying to get more oxygen to the body, causing a reddish color on the skin. Higher carbon monoxide exposure causes more serious symptoms, such as lack of coordination, chest pain, vomiting, loss of consciousness, a coma or death.
Exposure can be avoided by installing carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, checking gas appliances periodically for proper operation and venting, and ensuring chimneys, flues and vents are clear of any blockages. People should not let gas-powered vehicles or other equipment run indoors without proper ventilation.