Fire officials suggest caution with gas-powered tools indoorsSuperior fire officials are urging people to use caution when using gas-powered equipment after a carbon monoxide incident Sunday night.
By: Duluth News Tribune, Superior Telegram
Superior fire officials are urging people to use caution when using gas-powered equipment after a carbon monoxide incident Sunday night.
Firefighters responded to an two-level duplex on the 1200 block of Birch Avenue shortly before 10:30 p.m. because a CO detector went off. Firefighters found a CO level of 585 parts per million.
“I’ve never seen a CO level that high,” Superior Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Gordon said.
An odorless, tasteless and colorless gas, carbon monoxide can cause symptoms that can mimic flu, unconsciousness and even death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 50 ppm is the maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure in any eight-hour period, with levels above 100 ppm being potentially lethal.
CO is created by the incomplete combustion of fuel.
The CO in the duplex apparently came from a gas-powered power washer the building owners used to clean the basement, which had been flooded last week. They ran the power washer in the basement.
“I estimate they were at 1,000 ppm for an hour,” Gordon said. “Luckily they left because they weren’t feeling well.”
If they hadn’t the outcome could have been different, Gordon said. There was no CO detector in the basement, and it was an hour after the owners left before CO levels reached a high enough concentration to trigger the alarm on the building’s first floor.
“We suggest having a CO detector on every level,” Gordon said.
Firefighters evacuated the upstairs residents and their pets, and tracked down the owners, who went to an area hospital to be examined.
A state law that went into effect in 2011 requires CO detectors to be installed in all residences with fuel-burning appliances, fireplaces or attached garages. In one- and two-family dwellings, detectors are required on every floor of the home, including the basement, and near every sleeping area.