Carbon Monoxide poisoning prevention

Wednesday, October 1st 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

Summer heat gives way to Fall temperatures and a threat from a silent killer. A Tulsa woman wants you to think twice about firing up your furnace or lighting a fire in the fireplace.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler has her tragic story.

“Going to class, going to school and getting good grades, and Jimmy was talking about he wanted to learn how to drive my car." Samantha Henry's nephew Jimmy would be 18 Wednesday. Billy, 14, Robert and Jesse, 9, if not for the 1998 tragedy that changed her life. "I walked up and it was people everywhere. A big blur. Everybody was laying on the front lawn, and they told me that Tina was the only survivor, that we'd lost all of her sons."

Samantha had to identify the boys and their father as they lay on their front lawn. Her sister suffers irreversible brain damage. "I couldn't get an answer, I mean everyone kept saying 'carbon monoxide.' And I could not figure out how that happened."

Samantha says the tragedy was completely preventable. If you spend $30 or $40 on a carbon monoxide detector, you've gone a long way in protecting your family and there are other steps you can take today. "With carbon monoxide, unlike most things like in the air conditioning field where if it breaks you're upset, it could literally cost someone their life."

McBee Heating has had several calls from people ready to fire up their furnaces. Pat Schoeffler says they routinely run tests for carbon monoxide. “You can't taste it, you can't smell it, and it's kind of like filling up a glass of water." As it moves through the house undetected. The poison pours into your system and builds up in your blood. "And unfortunately when we hear of these tragedies, it's probably something that's taken some time to get to that point."

If you're lucky, carbon monoxide poisoning will cause headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion and abdominal cramps. That’s if you’re lucky. Samantha Henry's family slept right through the symptoms; she says they might not have slept through an alarm.

Samantha Henry volunteers with the Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross, teaching people the importance of carbon monoxide detectors.

She says to be sure your alarm is UL approved and follow the manufacturer's instructions. It's also a good idea to have a qualified technician check and light your furnace for the first time.

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