Carbon Monoxide - Close call

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Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby CEOofEVIL » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:49 pm

Or, alternatively, how Facebook saved my life.

Yesterday my family had a really close call with Carbon Monoxide. I was working from home yesterday and started feeling really ill around 12:45PM and figured I just needed to eat, so I ate, and alas still felt sick. I figured I was just coming down with something, and continued to work. During a break, I casually posted on my Facebook account that I wasn't feeling well with a brief outline of my symptoms. About 4:45, with my condition unchanged, I was pretty miserable. One of my buddies immediately called me and said "Get out of your house NOW, it sounds like you have carbon monoxide poisoning!". I was shocked and at first didn't put much weight into his claim, but still got my butt (and the dog's butts) out of the house as fast as possible. I was sitting in my computer chair when he called me up, and I think I literally got up so fast that It was spinning it circles! :lol:

So, once outside he says to stay out there and call the gas company, or 911 ASAP. I opted for the first choice because I didn't think I felt "That" bad, and was still skeptical. So I called up Atmos Energy and told them what as happening, and they told me to stay outside of the house and that they were sending a technician over quickly. About an hour later he finally showed up (good thing I have a nice backyard to hang out in! ;-) ). I wasn't feeling much better when he finally arrived, but the fresh air was seeming to help. The Tech went inside, and checked my oven, and found that it was leaking and had a huge issue with Carbon Monoxide! He said that his detector hit 34ppm and he immediately turned off the gas to the stove. 35ppm is enough to make you sick over 6-8 hours - pretty much exactly the same amount of time I had been in my home when I first started to get sick around 12:45. The tech then ran some more tests, opened some windows, and said "Yeah, that was a pretty bad leak for any type of appliance". He made sure the levels in the house were safe and said I could go back inside (after it aired out). I still opted to wait outside as much as possible until my wife got home from work, and she took me straight to the ER to get checked out. She had also been feeling the effects too, and had a migraine from it, but since I had been spending much more time in the house than her, I was worse off. The ER took blood to check our blood oxygen level and cleared us, saying that our levels were off a bit but within a safe level. I'd been out of the gas and in fresh air long enough that my body had done a great job of getting me healthy again. To be honest, if I'd just ignored my buddies advice, I would have been dead within a few hours. My wife would have come home to find myself and the dogs gone... that's an extremely sobering thought. We got really lucky yesterday! My Buddies intuition saved our lives!

We're renting the house we are in right now, having just moved here from another part of the state. There was a Detector present, but, it didn't detect a thing - the batteries were fine, but for some reason it's just DOA. Thankfully everything turned out ok... the landlord has been very professional, understanding and has been working with is to make sure everything is safe and fixed up (even going as far as to take care of the ER bills). So the moral of the story?

Have more than 1 Carbon Monoxide Detector in your home! If you have a leak, and one of the detectors dinks out on you, at least you'll have a backup to let you know you need to get out! I know I'll be buying at least two detectors to place in the areas of the home we spend the most time in, in addition to the replacement our landlord is providing.

Secondly, don't take any chances! Had I chosen to blow off my friends urging, I wouldn't be here typing this message. And all because he saw my Facebook post, describing my symptoms. I don't like FB that much, but in this case it was the catalyst for a life saving activity!

Stay safe folks! Make sure you check your detectors regularly as it can save you and your families lives!
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby Dave2 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:41 pm

I'm glad you're ok!
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby jocat54 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:09 pm

Glad your Okay!!!
I remember as a kid waking up and feeling like that so I woke everyone up--had a hard time getting my parents up--my sister got right up. It just didn't smell right. we had one of those old wall heaters and it starting leaking, took a few hours but everyone was okay. The fire department is who showed up and told us what had happened. It wasn't scaring being a dumb kid, but as I got older and thought about it--it really bothered me.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby philip964 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:15 pm

Lucky guy.

Detectors are about 35 dollars at Wallyworld.

Still a big problem with pool heaters for indoor pools at hotel/motels.

You check into the room next to the pool equipment room but you don't check out.

They find out they have a problem when a guest dies.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby ELB » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:40 pm

Wow.

Glad you AND the pooches are OK. Animals are tougher than humans in many ways, but exposure to fumes is not one of them -- they have much smaller lungs, less blood, etc, so a little fume goes a long way with them. Glad everyone is OK now, and landlord stepped up.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby snatchel » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:58 pm

Scary, Scary, Scary.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby jimlongley » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:48 pm

Glad you're ok, but something bothers me. Was the oven lit? CO is a by product of combustion and is not usually just the result of a gas leak. Yes, the gas can make you sick, as you described, but it's no CO poisoning.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby CEOofEVIL » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:54 am

Thanks for the well wishes all! I picked up two new detectors (DC models with battery backups), and the family slept easier last night. My dogs actually were acting funny all night, the night before this happened. They wanted to be let outside constantly (we don't have a doggy door), and when an 9 year old 80lb Black Lab tells you he wants out you listen. My wife and I honestly think this was their way of trying to tell us that they didn't feel good, and that something was wrong, as it continued through the next day and they were acting much more lethargic than normal.

Jim: That has really been bothering me too. As far as I am aware, the oven was not on the entire day. Not even the stove top. We did use the oven for around 1 1/2 hours the night before in order to cook dinner, but that was it. I'm wondering if during that time it was leaking bad enough to have created the Carbon Monoxide and sort of "trapped it" in the oven/kitchen area, and perhaps it was leaking out of it during following hours? I'm not sure. I have the piece of paper that the service tech from Atmos left, and all it says is " Type of Appliance: Range", "Your gas service was turned off due to an unsafe condition, Carbon Monoxide hazard", "Your gas service to appliance was turned off at appliance valve", and "Due to unsafe condition, gas leak at appliance". The paper is a triplicate form type where you fill in the bubbles in order to fill it out. Here's what confuses me about the form:

Image

As you can see in the picture, it shows which options are filled out. Its kind of hard to see, but you can tell that in the right hand column instead of "Carbon Monoxide Hazard" it shows (barely) that "Gas leak at appliance" is selected. I'm confused as to why the tech filled out "Carbon Monoxide Hazard" in the left column, but "Gas leak at appliance" on the right. The two don't jive with each other in my estimation, unless there is something that I'm failing to see (which is entirely possible, as I didn't notice the inconsistencies until now). A thought did just occur though - perhaps the second column is filled out like that because there were two existing conditions? That would make more sense. So the only possibilities I can think of right now are: The aforementioned use of the oven the night before creating the hazard, the gas leak itself making us sick and not the CO, or the oven just malfunctioning worse than I understand. The landlord did send a repair man out yesterday to check the oven, and he stated that the oven was indeed leaking a lot of gas. He mentioned the oven burner needed to be adjusted to allow for the proper mix of Oxygen to Gas, and that the ratio was previously off and was letting too much gas and not enough air in. He said he couldn't find anything else wrong with it, and with landlord approval, he fixed that issue. We haven't used it since then. So that would seem to rule out the oven completely malfunctioning by (IE: turning itself on or something similar to create the CO gas), granted I'm not 100% certain how ovens work, though I sincerely hope a repair man would. I'm just concerned that the problem was actually fixed - because if we haven't completely and correctly identified the problem, it makes me think that the likely hood of it being properly resolved is much smaller than if it was properly diagnosed. I was still feeling ill yesterday throughout the day, but so far today I'm feeling just about 100% fine, and considering that the detectors (one in the family room where I use my PC, and one in the Bedroom) haven't picked anything up at all , everything seems to be A-OK. I must admit I'm still at little uncomfortable with the situation though. Any thoughts?
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby Dragonfighter » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:26 pm

Interesting the ER found your PSO2 a "little" off. CO has a higher affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen and binds several times faster and with a stronger bond than oxygen to your blood and can show a normal count in blood or non-invasive PSO2 monitoring. In the field you treat based on symptoms and environmental findings and basically ignore the monitor. Fresh air helps but will not completely flush the blood for several days so if another problem occurs the effects may be cumulative. Standard treatment should've been an hour on 100% oxygen. If I had picked you up you would have been on a non-rebreather mask at 12 lpm O2 minimum. Severe cases require hyperbaric oxygenation.

He mentioned the oven burner needed to be adjusted to allow for the proper mix of Oxygen to Gas, and that the ratio was previously off and was letting too much gas and not enough air in.


This is where the problem lies. The gas leak itself would be a hazard but you didn't detect the odor, so either you had been smelling it long enough to deaden the sensitivity to mercaptin or your one in the minority of the population who can't smell it. The real problem is the leak in combination with the air/fuel mixture creates an incomplete combustion (FWIW dirt on burners in water heaters and furnaces can do the same thing) and incomplete combustion is where the CO is generated.

Your PEL (Prolonged Exposure Limit) is 50ppm, Toxic (Headache in 2-3 hours) is around 200 ppm and 400 ppm will give you the headache in about an hour. 35 ppm is considered "safe". I would bet a Coke that you cleared the air significantly when you evacuated and the gas man did take over an hour to get to you. Methane on the other hand, if it was concentrated enough to be toxic it would have been well into its LEL of 50000 ppm or 5% concentration. Then you may have well remodeled the place when you threw a light switch. So I'm betting on CO.

God forbid this should happen again. If it does please, please, call 911. They will get there in minutes and they have gas sensors which will tell them what gases are present and in what concentration AND they can treat you if you're sick (not to mention being able to mitigate the impromptu remodel).

One last word on the Methane exposure, if it was that that caused your symptoms then it is common for people to be cleared medically by ER personnel, but that happens regularly with CO poisoning as well.

Glad you are okay.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby jimlongley » Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:54 pm

Dragonfighter wrote:Interesting the ER found your PSO2 a "little" off. CO has a higher affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen and binds several times faster and with a stronger bond than oxygen to your blood and can show a normal count in blood or non-invasive PSO2 monitoring. In the field you treat based on symptoms and environmental findings and basically ignore the monitor. Fresh air helps but will not completely flush the blood for several days so if another problem occurs the effects may be cumulative. Standard treatment should've been an hour on 100% oxygen. If I had picked you up you would have been on a non-rebreather mask at 12 lpm O2 minimum. Severe cases require hyperbaric oxygenation.

He mentioned the oven burner needed to be adjusted to allow for the proper mix of Oxygen to Gas, and that the ratio was previously off and was letting too much gas and not enough air in.


This is where the problem lies. The gas leak itself would be a hazard but you didn't detect the odor, so either you had been smelling it long enough to deaden the sensitivity to mercaptin or your one in the minority of the population who can't smell it. The real problem is the leak in combination with the air/fuel mixture creates an incomplete combustion (FWIW dirt on burners in water heaters and furnaces can do the same thing) and incomplete combustion is where the CO is generated.

Your PEL (Prolonged Exposure Limit) is 50ppm, Toxic (Headache in 2-3 hours) is around 200 ppm and 400 ppm will give you the headache in about an hour. 35 ppm is considered "safe". I would bet a Coke that you cleared the air significantly when you evacuated and the gas man did take over an hour to get to you. Methane on the other hand, if it was concentrated enough to be toxic it would have been well into its LEL of 50000 ppm or 5% concentration. Then you may have well remodeled the place when you threw a light switch. So I'm betting on CO.

God forbid this should happen again. If it does please, please, call 911. They will get there in minutes and they have gas sensors which will tell them what gases are present and in what concentration AND they can treat you if you're sick (not to mention being able to mitigate the impromptu remodel).

One last word on the Methane exposure, if it was that that caused your symptoms then it is common for people to be cleared medically by ER personnel, but that happens regularly with CO poisoning as well.

Glad you are okay.


:iagree:

A misadjusted burner, or more than likely more than one, can generate a great deal of CO quickly and it is insidious. Too much gas and too little air means incomplete combustion, which yields a lot of CO.

In 17 years as a (volunteer) fireman and emt, I was involved in several incidents that were most likely CO, and more then one that was a sure thing. The worst was during a power outage when a family set up a little charcoal grill to heat a room and killed most of the family.

As suggested above, what may have happened is you got enough CO generated, breathed it and got sick, and continued to get sick from the gas leak, and then when you left the house, you provided just enough ventilation to clear up what was there.

The big problem that I see with what the gas company did was that they didn't give you enough information, either about the problem itself, or what to do about it. And there was probably a good deal of guess work involved in their troubleshooting, because the major problem was gone by the time they got started.

Of course, typically, techs like that will play things pretty close to the chest just to reduce their liability, and the landlord's guy might know what he's doing or not. I would call the gas company and ask if they have a recommended plumber or gas service to run a complete safety check and repair, knowing that the gas company will not repair stuff. If they do not recommend someone, check one of the online lists, and just for safety's sake, get a complete overhaul from the gas valve to the burners.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby WildBill » Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:53 pm

jimlongley wrote:In 17 years as a (volunteer) fireman and emt, I was involved in several incidents that were most likely CO, and more then one that was a sure thing. The worst was during a power outage when a family set up a little charcoal grill to heat a room and killed most of the family.

As suggested above, what may have happened is you got enough CO generated, breathed it and got sick, and continued to get sick from the gas leak, and then when you left the house, you provided just enough ventilation to clear up what was there.

The big problem that I see with what the gas company did was that they didn't give you enough information, either about the problem itself, or what to do about it. And there was probably a good deal of guess work involved in their troubleshooting, because the major problem was gone by the time they got started.

Of course, typically, techs like that will play things pretty close to the chest just to reduce their liability, and the landlord's guy might know what he's doing or not. I would call the gas company and ask if they have a recommended plumber or gas service to run a complete safety check and repair, knowing that the gas company will not repair stuff. If they do not recommend someone, check one of the online lists, and just for safety's sake, get a complete overhaul from the gas valve to the burners.

CO detectors are a good idea, but they are only good for detecting something is wrong after the fact. I have no idea of the brand or age of the appliances in your house, but I suggest attacking the root cause of the problem and have the oven repaired or get the landlord to install a new unit. If he refuses, move. Your lives are worth more than the cost of an oven.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby tomtexan » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:24 pm

Does the oven have pilot lights or electronic igniters? Would a pilot light emit enough fumes to cause illness? :confused5
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby WildBill » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:27 pm

tomtexan wrote:Does the oven have pilot lights or electronic igniters? Would a pilot light emit enough fumes to cause illness? :confused5

I didn't think that gas appliances/ovens had pilot lights anymore.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby tomtexan » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:31 pm

WildBill wrote:
tomtexan wrote:Does the oven have pilot lights or electronic igniters? Would a pilot light emit enough fumes to cause illness? :confused5

I didn't think that gas appliances/ovens had pilot lights anymore.

Been many years since I have seen one, but I suppose it is possible that they could still exist.
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Re: Carbon Monoxide - Close call

Postby WildBill » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:36 pm

tomtexan wrote:
WildBill wrote:
tomtexan wrote:Does the oven have pilot lights or electronic igniters? Would a pilot light emit enough fumes to cause illness? :confused5

I didn't think that gas appliances/ovens had pilot lights anymore.

Been many years since I have seen one, but I suppose it is possible that they could still exist.

My sister lives in an old house that still has a wall heater with a pilot light. It causes a lot of trouble and I have been concerned about it.
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