Steamboat woman poisoned by carbon monoxide gas left car running in garage
January 9, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs firefighters determined the elderly woman who was poisoned by carbon monoxide early Sunday morning had left her car running in the garage.
Steamboat firefighters were initially called to the Waterside Condos at 1100 Yampa St. at about 12:50 a.m. after a carbon monoxide alarm went off.
In addition to firefighters, the condo's management company, Central Park Management, responded in addition to Atmos Energy.
Deputy Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said the unit where the alarm went off was not where the woman lived.
Elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found in the unit with the alarm, and the unit was ventilated.
Cerasoli said Atmos has more sensitive equipment for detecting carbon monoxide, and their crew tried to find the source.
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"It took so long because they were trying to systematically go through and turn on gas appliances and gauge any detection of CO," Cerasoli said.
A few hours after the initial alarm, Atmos and Central Park discovered the poisoned woman in her condo.
She was unresponsive and taken to the street.
Firefighters arrived again and took the woman to UC Health Yampa Valley Medical Center in critical condition.
Firefighters and police officers began waking people up and evacuating the building.
"Doors were breached because there weren't keys for certain units," Police Commander Jerry Stabile said.
Cerasoli said that when someone is poisoned by carbon monoxide, it displaces the oxygen in the blood, and the treatment involves giving the patient oxygen.
"As much oxygen as we can give them for an extended period of time," Cerasoli said.
Eventually, the woman came to and was able say that she had left her car running in the garage.
"That helped everyone involved because they could take a breath and a sigh of relief," Cerasoli said.
At the condo complex, the garages are located under the units on the ground level.
The car was not running while the source of the carbon monoxide was being investigated.
Cerasoli said they do not believe the car was intentionally left running.
Tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
— Test carbon monoxide detectors, which should be placed within 15 feet of bedrooms. State law requires rental units to have detectors.
— Have your natural gas appliances inspected annually by a qualified contractor.
— Do not use a portable generator or outdoor grill indoors.
— Keep external exhaust vents clear of snow and ice buildup to allow for adequate ventilation.
— If your home has been re-roofed recently, make sure your vents are free of obstruction.