MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- A family of six suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after lighting their woodstove for the first time this season.
Investigators said the woodstove pipe was clogged and carbon monoxide fumes quickly spread in the home.
The mom, dad and their three young kids and an uncle started feeling nauseated and getting headaches at about the time their carbon monoxide alarms went off, according to Brandon Paxton with the Clackamas Fire District.
Mom Elizabeth Brown said the warning on the alarm read, "Get to fresh air!" So they did. Then, she called 9-1-1.
"My kids are just playing and I don't think they realize how serious this could have been and it really could have been, especially with my 2-year old in the house, she can't say, 'Mommy I don't feel good,' she doesn't know any better," Brown told KGW.
When emergency crews arrived, the levels were over 100 parts per million in the room where the kids had been playing, Paxton said. That was about three times higher than levels which are usually considered to be safe.
The family was treated at the scene and later visited the hospital for an evaluation. The children, a boy and two girls, are ages six, five and two.
"It's the law in Oregon that rental establishments must have a working carbon monoxide detector. That's what saved this family's life to be honest," Paxton said.
Crews worked to lower the levels so the family could safely return inside the home, located on Southeast Stanley Place in Milwaukie.
The parents had lit a fire in the woodstove around 6 a.m., for the first time of the season. They rent the home and did not realize the stove had problems, Paxton said.
He added that these types of problems often reveal themselves this time of year, as temperatures begin to drop. Paxton said it's an important reminder to make sure your wood stove is working properly and recently cleaned.
The Clackamas Fire District also shared the following tips, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure:
- Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
- Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
- Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
- Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
- Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
- Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
- Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly. • Do not idle the car inside garage.
- Always remember to install working carbon monoxide alarms