Residents urged to watch CO levels
By Scott Bellile
The New London Fire Department asks people to monitor their home’s carbon monoxide levels following two recent carbon monoxide calls, one of which resulted in poisoning and hospitalizations.
A mother and her teen or young adult daughter were taken to ThedaCare Medical Center-New London by ambulance and the father drove himself on Jan. 24, New London Fire Lt. Ted Coppersmith told the Press Star. All were released from the hospital the same day.
The department did not release the victims’ names.
NLFD responded to N4375 Driftwood Road in the town of Mukwa around noon, according to the fire report.
Coppersmith said upon arrival he measured a carbon monoxide concentration of 84 parts per million inside the entrance.
“Anything over 50 parts per million is getting dangerous,” Coppersmith said.
Assistant Fire Chief Dick Muskevitsch recorded a reading of 148 parts per million down the hallway, Coppersmith said.
Hours of continuous exposure to concentrations of 150 to 200 parts per million can cause disorientation, unconsciousness and death, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Firefighters found a carbon monoxide concentration of 1,000 parts per million trapped at the top of the furnace, Coppersmith said. He did not know what was wrong with the furnace but noted the family installed it last May, showing that even new furnaces can malfunction.
The mother and daughter were lying in the sun room and reported having headaches when firefighters and paramedics arrived, Coppersmith said.
“The flu is going around so they assumed they were getting the flu,” Coppersmith said.
Carbon monoxide does not have an odor, taste or color, so it can be hard to notice without a detector.
Coppersmith said the home occupants’ carbon monoxide alarm was sounding since 10 p.m. on Jan. 23, but they waited until Jan. 24 to call for help because they thought the alarm was malfunctioning.
“What is important for the public to know is if their Carbon Monoxide alarm sounds that they need to dial 911 and have the fire department dispatched right away. They should not wait,” New London Fire Capt. Don Conat told the Press Star in an email on Jan. 25. “There is no charge for the fire department to come to check the carbon monoxide level in the house.”
Coppersmith added “95 percent” of NLFD’s carbon monoxide calls are false alarms but that does not matter because the fire department’s purpose is to protect taxpayers.
Four days prior to the Mukwa call, Jan. 20, NLFD responded to 517 W. Pine St. in New London around 9 p.m. for a carbon monoxide detector going off.
Firefighters found a carbon monoxide concentration of 20 parts per million on the main level and 25 parts per million upstairs.
No illness was reported and evacuation was not necessary. The caller was advised to call a heating contractor, according to the fire report.
This story was revised on Jan. 30, 2018, to remove incorrect information that stated the home’s furnace led to the roof.