Mitchell, SD – A Mitchell family was exposed to extremely high levels of carbon monoxide Tuesday night, causing three juveniles to be monitored and treated at the hospital.
At about 5 p.m., emergency room personnel called the Mitchell Fire Department to report three children who had high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, according to Mitchell Assistant Fire Chief Marius Laursen. The juveniles were brought to the hospital because they were feeling ill, and that eventually caused firefighters to respond to a residence on the 1400 block of East Birch Avenue.
Laursen said upon arrival, firefighters found carbon monoxide levels in the air at 1,183 parts per million. Comparatively, Laursen said 35 parts per million is the threshold to remove people from their home as anything above that is dangerous.
“Any extra prolonged exposure at that rate would have likely caused death,” Laursen said. “It’s 33 times higher than what we call a safe level.”
The call was eventually turned over to the owner of the rental property and NorthWestern Energy. After investigation, firefighters suspect the cause of the carbon monoxide leak was a faulty furnace.
Jay Gravholt, Avera spokesman, said anyone exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide will be treated with pure oxygen to breathe through an oxygen mask. In severe cases they can also utilize the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which also gives 100% oxygen, but the pressure inside is higher than normal and speeds up the replacement of the carbon monoxide with oxygen.
Laursen said having a good-working carbon monoxide detector is just as important has having a home smoke alarm. Anything that uses natural gas can cause a carbon monoxide leak.
“Anytime you have flu-like symptoms or a dull headache and you think there may be a problem, just call NorthWestern and fire department no matter what,” Laursen said. “We’ll come and check.”
Names of the people involved were not released.
Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, which can cause sudden illness and death, is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information about carbon monoxide poisoning can be found at this website: //www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm