NJ – By LYNDA COHEN , AtlanticCity.com – About six people were evacuated from an apartment building on Ohio Avenue on Tuesday because of a carbon monoxide leak.
The building’s carbon monoxide detector alerted residents to the problem, Atlantic City Battalion Fire Chief Charles Ritzel said.
Firefighters were called to the three-story building in the 100 block of North Ohio Avenue at about 12:30 p.m., Ritzel said.
“We checked the heater room and found a high reading, then we called for code enforcement and they came down,” he explained. The building was evacuated immediately.
A plumbing inspector from the building department was called and found a problem with the heater, Ritzel said.
The owner must fix the heater before tenants can return.
The tenants “are going to have to make arrangements with the owner to find someplace to stay,” Ritzel said.
Carbon monoxide detectors have been required in homes that change residency since April 2003.
“What makes (carbon monoxide) so dangerous is you can’t see it, you can’t smell it,” city Fire Inspector Scott McKnight said. “It works very, very slowly and it’s very deadly.”
While carbon monoxide is not a new problem, McKnight said tighter construction in modern homes makes it more dangerous.
“Older homes breathed much better,” he said. “Not that it wasn’t dangerous back then, but the symptoms may not have shown up as severely as they do today.”
But installing a detector should not replace regular maintenance on appliances, heaters and venting systems, according to the New Jersey Natural Gas Web site.
McKnight agrees. “We recommend that people have any fuel-burning appliance serviced annually,” he said. “One thing everybody can identify with is when the heater is not running all summer and the chimney is quiet, birds or squirrels may build a nest in there. When it comes time to turn the heater on in November, gases are backed up into the home.”
A home inspection may cost about $120 per year, but it can ensure safety, McKnight said.
Carbon monoxide poisoning has flu-like symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, throbbing headaches and nausea, he said. “You certainly won’t feel right.”
If you have a carbon monoxide detector and it goes off, McKnight said to call 911 immediately, open all the windows to air out the home and then leave.
“We don’t want people to be shy about calling us if there is a situation they need us to check,” he said. “We’ll be just as happy to find nothing wrong.”