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Originally published November 26, 2010 at 7:24 PM | Page modified November 27, 2010 at 5:32 PM

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Carbon-monoxide poisoning of 14 a reminder of briquette danger

The carbon-monoxide poisoning that sent 14 people from a Lynnwood family gathering to hospitals Thursday points out the dangers of using briquettes indoors, said Lynnwood Fire Marshal Leroy McNulty.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Information

For carbon-monoxide warnings in more than a dozen languages, see http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/disaster/carbon-monoxide.aspx

For additional information on coping with a storm, see

www.govlink.org/storm/

Prevent carbon-monoxide poisoning

• Never burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles or garages.

• Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home.

• Never use gasoline-powered equipment indoors.

• Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

• Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.

• Never sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.

• Make sure chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.

• Have fireplaces, wood stoves and oil or gas appliances checked every year by a professional.

• Carbon-monoxide-warning devices may provide additional protection, but should not replace the other prevention steps.

Source: Public Health — Seattle & King County

The carbon-monoxide poisoning that sent 14 people from a Lynnwood family gathering to hospitals Thursday points out the dangers of using briquettes indoors, said Lynnwood Fire Marshal LeRoy McNulty.

Residents of the unit at the Augusta Glen Apartments in the 4800 block of 168th Street Southwest may have been cooking over the briquettes about 9 p.m. when they noticed a 3-year-old boy had passed out, McNulty said. Only then did occupants realize the fireplace flue was closed.

Cold weather heightens the danger of potentially fatal carbon-monoxide poisoning if charcoal grills, gas grills or gasoline-powered generators are used indoors.

A danger of using charcoal briquettes indoors, McNulty said, is that unless food grease is dripped onto them, briquettes give off very little smoke, making it difficult to detect that carbon monoxide, which is odorless and colorless, is being given off.

By comparison, a wood fire in a fireplace with the flue closed would rapidly spread smoke into the room, making the danger obvious more quickly.

Four members of the family were taken to Swedish Edmonds Medical Center in Edmonds, including the 3-year-old, who was the most severely affected and was treated with oxygen therapy.

The others were seen for observation only.

Ten other people from the gathering, ranging in age from 8 to 34, were taken for observation to Providence Medical Center in Everett. None was severely affected.

Food and food-preparation items found in the apartment made it appear that the charcoal fire was to be used for cooking, McNulty said.

He said the apartment had electric heat, which was functioning, and the apartment was warm when he arrived.

Other units in the complex were briefly evacuated as firefighters checked for carbon monoxide, but McNulty said carbon monoxide was detected only in the affected apartment, and in an attic area above it.

In the aftermath of a December 2006 windstorm that caused widespread power outages around the Northwest, more than 300 residents were sickened, and eight died, as families without electricity turned to alternate sources of heat and power.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

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