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Carbon monoxide kills Glenville couple

"Thirty parts per million can effect your health and I know [the carbon monoxide levels] were well beyond that," said Conley.

Dr. Rodger Barrowman, chief of Ellis Hospital's Emergency Department, said that, especially during this time of year, people put themselves at risk by placing generators and wood stoves in parts of their homes that aren't ventilated well, especially when the power goes out.

"The great risk is that you get a build up of carbon monoxide over long periods of time," said Barrowman. "It's odorless; it's very difficult to detect other than that you smell fumes, but sometimes it's so subtle that toxic levels build up, and the way it really works is that it replaces oxygen in the hemoglobin molecule in the blood and the organs get denied oxygen and essentially die," said Barrowman.

He said that process can happen in a matter of minutes if a person is exposed to sufficient quantities. When people are exposed, their symptoms are so vague they can be mistaken for something as simple as the onset of the flu. While you don't die immediately from carbon monoxide, prolonged exposure can kill you.

"It's headache; it's nausea; it's lethargy. That sounds like having some bad food or early symptoms of the flu or being hung-over. It's very non-specific," said Barrowman.

Since the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be hard to determine, officials emphasized the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors in home. Those will go off well before it's too late to get out and can be purchased at any hardware store.

"The two big things are to emphasize are that people ventilate their houses well and don't heat their homes with machines that use gas without outside ventilation," said Barrowman.

He also said that if you do have exposure to carbon monoxide, get treated as soon as possible.

"[Exposure to carbon monoxide] is reversible with high concentrations of oxygen within several minutes to a few hours," said Barrowman.

People who have been exposed to very high levels who are unconscious can be placed in hyperbaric chambers, which can help with the recovery process.

"There's a concern with brain injury, but it's treatable and reversible," said Barrowman.""

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