Canoga Park, CA – A man and girl overcome by carbon monoxide from a portable power generator were rescued unconscious Friday from a Canoga Park apartment.
Firefighters were sent on an afternoon call to the 8000 block of DeSoto Avenue, where they found the 21-year-old man and 11-year-old girl unconscious in an apartment, according to Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
It appears the apartment did not have power and they were using a portable gas generator that was placed in the bathroom to provide temporary power to appliances via extension cords, Scott said.
Little did they know that deadly carbon monoxide gas was filling their apartment.
The girl reported to a neighbor that she was not feeling and was going to lie down, he said.
Several hours later the neighbor, along with her mother, went to the apartment and found both patients unconscious and called 911, Scott said
Paramedics treated and took the patients, in critical condition, to a hospital.
Fortunately, due to firefighters efforts, both patients conditions began to improve, Scott said. If it were not for the neighbor finding the patients and calling 911, they both likely would have died.
In light of this incident and a tendency for people to seek alternative methods of heating their homes during cold snaps, the fire department urged residents to understand that carbon dioxide, called the invisible killer, is odorless, colorless and, once in ones bloodstream, limits the ability of blood to carry essential oxygen to the brain and other vital organs.
Each year, more than 150 people die in the U.S. from accidental, non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products such as generators.
Other products include faulty, improperly used or incorrectly vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces, Scott said.
Symptoms include flu-like symptoms without fever, including headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.
As the poisoning progresses, more severe symptoms include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and unconsciousness.
Ultimately the poisoning can result in death.
Residents should never use portable generators indoors and are advised to employ affordable carbon monoxide detectors available for about $20 at home improvement and hardware stores.
They should be placed in a central location, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of a home, according to Scott, who also advises checking vents of dryers, furnaces, stoves and fireplaces to ensure they are clear of debris.