CO Poisioning: Our Family’s Story

1 Apr

You’re likely wondering why I’m posting on something other than food storage today.  I don’t go off topic very often but I’ve decided what I have to tell you today is just SO important.  If this story and it’s lessons learned can prevent even one accident, it’ll be worth it.   We recently had a big scare in our family, nearly tragic, and I wanted to tell you about it.

A week ago today we came dangerously close to losing both of my husband’s parents as well as my 4 year old niece to carbon monoxide poisoning in their home.  It happened so quickly, in fact I’d just talked to my mother in law the day before, chatting about life and such and everything had been fine.  She’d mentioned how they’d been fighting off a flu bug (or so they thought) but outside of that, life was going well.  The next morning, however, all had changed.

My mother in law woke up the next morning unable to move her body.  After five unsuccessful tries using her fingers to call 911, she was finally successful by using Syri on her iphone to get emergency help to come to the house.  Her husband was not awake or alert at the time and my four year old niece – who by another miracle had been awakened throughout the night with troubling dreams– was also quiet.

My sister in law living in Utah has been kind enough to allow me to share her experience as it unfolded with her on the phone that morning.  She writes…

“I received a call early in the morning from my sister in Spokane as she was racing over to our parent’s home following a bizarre call from our mom. She said mom was crying and moaning and was difficult to understand and was saying, “I can’t move my body at all. I can’t dial 911. Call 911. Get over here quick, something is wrong…..”


We talked about the possibilities – bizarre virus? Flu? E. Coli? Food Poisoning? Panic attack?  I hung up and tried Dad and Mom. No answer. I called my sister in Seattle. She used her other phone and called Mom, who answered, and was now sobbing and totally incoherent. We got a call back from her telling us to call 911 right away, however my sister living in Spokane arrived at our parent’s home to find a fire truck and ambulance already there.  I texted all my siblings and told them to start praying for Mom and Dad and Lily.

The cause was carbon monoxide poisoning due to a gas leak in their home .  Recently there was a family in Idaho who all died from CO poisoning in their sleep {and just two weeks before that there was a 2nd story HERE}.  I’d told them by email to be sure they had detectors in their home. They didn’t have them yet so I told them to get some. I found out later Dad soon went out and bought them… but hadn’t installed them yet.

The reading on the house:  760 ppm (parts per million). A home shouldn’t ever be over 30 ppm. Yeah, THIRTY. And theirs was at 760.”



So, it’s me again.

After being admitted they started their treatments to get the CO out of their bodies.  They were admitted for two days and required three 3-hr treatments in the hyperbaric chambers in order to flood their systems with pure oxygen.  Because carbon monoxide works to suffocate brain cells, the body has to be flooded with pure oxygen to clear carbon monoxide from the system. The concern is that without it being cleared completely, a person can have continuing cognitive effects.

Gratefully (so gratefully) our story here ends happily with three of our dearest family members being saved from nearly dying.  It came too close.  And as it turns out, flu like/sinus type symptoms happen to be a symptom of CO poisoning.  In fact, there were many “dots” that were never connected until it was nearly too late.  Their story was featured last week on the local news where they live and if you’re interested, I’d invite you to check it out.

You can watch/read the full local news story HERE.

Finally getting to go home!



Please consider the following and pass this information along to those you love:

symptoms CO

CO doc1


Most importantly, the message on this is PREVENTION!

Be sure you have working CO detectors in your home!  Carbon Monoxide is a colorless odorless gas, nicknamed the “silent killer” for a reason.   It’s estimated that unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 430 deaths in the United States each year (Source:  CDC). Protect your family by installing detectors and being sure they work.

Also, Food Storage Moms shares a helpful post (HERE) on CO detectors, making sure they’re not expired and knowing how to shut the gas off in your home.




With Your Preparedness Items in Mind…

Generators must never, never ever be run indoors or in any room connected to your home (such as the garage).  Many people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning during winter storms and widespread power outages because they’ve run their generators indoors.

In 2006, an internal government report (the full report is linked HERE, I’ve pictured page 10) was issued on what was discovered circumstantially when CO poisoning was the cause of death as related to the use of portable generators.  You may need to click on the image in order to read it, but there are many good lessons to be learned here.

CO doc



9 Responses to “CO Poisioning: Our Family’s Story”

  1. Barbara Cortopassi April 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Wow, what a scary story. So glad all is well with your family. Makes you treasure the little moments, doesn’t it?

    • Megan April 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      For sure. I can’t imagine our family without them. The next time we’re all together we’ll appreciate it a lot more.

  2. plicketycat April 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Scary! So glad that everyone made it out ok after such a frightening experience. Any idea what caused the CO elevations?

    Since we heat with wood, cook with propane, and often light with kerosene while we’re snowbound indoors during the winter we installed combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide alarms on each floor and on the bed headboard (so there is 2 in the loft even though it’s open floor plan). We test them the first of the month and replace the batteries when we change the clocks. Safety is definitely a priority for preparedness!

    • Megan April 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

      I believe it was a gas leak within their boiler system following some work they’d recently had done on it.

      That’s smart of you to keep one on your headboard. For you it’s a bigger risk with all you do living off grid, but still that’s a good idea. Also I like the system you use in keeping your detectors checked regularly. Thanks for sharing!

  3. LaRene April 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Megan, I’m so glad that everything turned out okay. Most of the time you don’t wake up from this!!! How scary!! We lost a friend, when he was working in his garage without ventilation. Hugs to you and to all of your family,

    • Megan April 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      Thanks, LaRene.

  4. Karen Olsen Hall April 3, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    What a miracle that they were able to get help out there! I tried to get Siri to call on my phone by just talking, and I had to first unlock it with a password, and then hit the home button, and I don’t know how your mother in law was able to do that! I am so glad they are all ok! Wow! And with a reading of 30!! I also didn’t know you shouldn’t put your generator in the garage! or the back porch! I had read about the family in Idaho too, and I bought my CO2 detectors too, but I hadn’t installed mine either! So that is something we are doing ASAP! Thank you for sharing all this valuable info and for sharing your wonderful miracle!

  5. Prepared Housewives April 7, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    Thanks for sharing! That is scary! Glad they are doing well now. Just shared your story so hopefully others will learn!

    • Megan April 7, 2014 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks Jaime for sharing it! This is important stuff. I know I learned a great deal from it that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: