Hannibal, MO – By Bev Darr, Courier-Post

The Hannibal Fire Department has requested the public be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, after a local couple was taken to the hospital on Tuesday for treatment.

This type of poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms, and the public should be aware of the dangers of ignoring them, according to Capt. Tim Daugherty of the HFD.

He reported the fire department was called to a home in the 4100 block of Cheyenne at 7:55 a.m. Tuesday, where a couple was in a home with a high level of carbon monoxide. They had called for assistance, and both the fire department and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the scene.

“We had to remove the two occupants of the house to fresh air, and the ambulance district took over on patient care,” he said. Both the man and woman went to the hospital.

Before leaving, the woman said there were four dogs in the house. “We had to hunt them up and remove them,” Daugherty said. An animal control officer took the dogs to the local animal shelter for temporary care. They were OK, he added.

The fire department checked the carbon monoxide level and found it high. Firefighters called Atmos Energy to come and also check the carbon monoxide level, he said. “They brought their detection equipment to confirm our readings with our testing equipment, and they also showed dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.”

Firefighters remained on the scene until 10 a.m. and aired out the home with fans, Daugherty said, “until the levels were acceptable and we could re-enter the structure.

“The gas company shut off everything that was a gas appliance in the house, and they checked each one.” The problem was caused by a small furnace in an attached greenhouse, he said. “The furnace had a cracked heat exchanger.”

The couple had been getting sick, and “they assumed it might be carbon monoxide because of their symptoms,” Daugherty said.

Listing symptoms, he said, “they can feel tired or have a fever, and they also can feel nauseous. It can cause some breathing difficulties. …They can be dizzy, and if they are exposed to high enough levels over a period of time, they can go to sleep and die.”

The victims on Tuesday had a carbon monoxide detector in their home, but it did not alert them, Daugherty said. “It could have had bad batteries,” or it could have needed dusting. “The area it is in should be vacuumed, so you don’t get dust around the sensor area,” he advised.

“Every carbon monoxide detector is different,” he added. “Some don’t require batteries, but those that do should be checked as often as smoke detectors, once in spring and once in fall.”

Gas appliances also should be checked periodically, Daugherty said. “Everybody should have their furnaces and flues checked for various problems they may have.”

During the past several years, he said, “this is the fourth time I have been on a call where we had to remove persons from their home because the carbon monoxide levels were too high.”