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Sycamore fire officials post carbon monoxide warning

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Fire Department is warning residents about the use of keyless ignition vehicles after a recent incident where a family accidentally left a car running the in the garage, causing a deadly amount of carbon monoxide to seep into their home.

Carbon monoxide detectors alerted the family and the odorless, colorless, poisonous gas stayed on the first floor, said Art Zern, Sycamore Fire Department’s deputy fire chief.

The detectors alert when carbon monoxide concentrations reach 35 parts per million. In this instance, Zern said, the lower levels were covered in a lethal amount – more than 500 parts per million – of the gas.

What if a lethal amount of the gas, which travels where air travels, had made it upstairs?

“They probably wouldn’t wake up and it would be lethal in the first few hours,” Zern said.

Sycamore firefighters opened the garage door when they responded to the family’s call. There was heat from the car, which ran out of gas, and they were met with a haze in the air and lethal levels of carbon monoxide, according to a Sycamore Fire Department news release.

The owner of the car parked it in the garage the night before and didn’t push the start-stop button, leaving the vehicle on and running. He told firefighters he left the key fob in the vehicle and didn’t realize it was still running, “because the vehicle runs so quiet,” according to the release.

“What seems to be happening far too often is the owners of the vehicles return to their homes where they park their vehicles in the garage,” according to the release. “Not having to turn an ignition key to stop the vehicle, these vehicle owners forget to push the START/STOP button on the dashboard.”

Although many key fobs have an alarm that sounds when the key drifts too far from the vehicle, that feature is useless if the owner leaves it inside the car.

That error can cause deaths, according to the release.

“It’s been a couple years since we’ve responded to this,” Zern said. “It’s the first one in two years we’ve had one of these incidents where it was enough to set alarms off in the house.”

Sycamore Fire Department urges homeowners ensure their carbon monoxide detectors work.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are dull headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness.

Zern said carbon monoxide comes from any fossil fuel-burning system, such as an oven, stove, lawnmower or car. During the chilly fall days that northern Illinois experiences, the furnace also is a concern.

Zern said he is concerned that more houses have had alarms go off and the department wasn’t notified, and he reminded Sycamore residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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