A third death in two months in Siskiyou County attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning was reported this week by the Sheriff’s Office.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey states in a news release that “the alarming increase in accidental deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning (CO) is staggering and a serious concern. It is important to realize that this time of the year we see an increase in these types of human tragedies due to freezing temperatures and a corresponding improper or careless use of potentially hazardous heating devices that often emit harmful CO fumes.”
Sheriff Lopey says “CO deaths can be prevented but often times, especially when at night while sleeping, CO is very difficult to detect because it is an odorless but fatal gas that can cause disabling and sometimes fatal injuries.”
The Sheriff’s Office said three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Shasta Vista area in November and December of 2016.
The most recent incident, near the end of December, took the life of a man who was residing in a travel trailer. His death, according to the Sheriff’s Office, was cause when fumes from a generator apparently penetrated the structure.
The Sheriff’s Office previously reported a carbon monoxide death on Nov. 21, 2016. A North Carolina resident was found dead in a travel trailer in the Shasta Vista area the previous week.
“According to the autopsy reports, high CO concentrations in the systems of these men were the cause of their accidental deaths. In both cases, generators were operating outside the trailers occupied by the victims and it appears CO fumes penetrated the structures, ultimately leading to the tragic deaths of both men in separate but similar incidents,” according to the news release.
“Earlier in November, Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a deceased person and found a 58-year-old woman in the Shasta Vista area dead in a wooden structure. An autopsy revealed she succumbed to CO poisoning, and it was suspected the accidental death was attributed to her use of a barbecue-type system that was using an open flame to heat charcoal to warm the interior of the wooden structure.”
Sergeant Jeremiah LaRue, a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, states in the release that “Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill in our nation. Many household items can create deadly CO fumes, including gas and oil-burning furnaces, portable generators, charcoal grills, lanterns, unvented or subserviced wood burning stoves, and similar heating devices.”
LaRue points to the following tips that can help prevent the needless injuries and deaths caused by CO:
• Ensure your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances are serviced by a qualified technician once a year.
• It is highly recommended that battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors be installed in your home and check or replace the battery when you change your clocks each spring and fall.
• If the CO detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
• Seek medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning. Symptoms include a dizzy, light-headed or nauseated feeling.
• Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window of any structure you occupy.
• Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the garage door open.
• Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
• Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
• If you use a generator near your home, ensure it is located at least 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
LaRue says “carbon monoxide can’t be seen, can’t be smelled, can’t be heard, BUT CAN BE STOPPED by following some of the suggestions mentioned in this news release.”
Questions about the dangers associated with CO should be referred to your local law enforcement agency, fire department or, if in a county area or one of SCSO’s contract cities (Dorris, Montague, Fort Jones, and Dunsmuir) by calling the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 842-8300, unless it is an emergency, which should prompt a call to “9-1-1.” The 24-hour SCSO Dispatch Center may also be contacted at (530) 841-2900.