Inspectors visiting 300 Durham apartments after carbon monoxide scares

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham Housing Authority on Thursday ordered swift inspections of more than 300 apartments at its McDougald Terrace property because of a string of residents suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.

Officials told the ABC11 I-Team that there have been seven such poisonings in the last 30 days, including one incident affecting a mother and her 1-year-old son this past Monday.

"The younger, the older, the sicker, the unhealthier -- those are the ones who are going be affected quicker," Assistant Chief David Swain, with the Durham Fire Department, told ABC11. "Major symptoms from carbon monoxide include light headedness, nausea, vomiting. It's very similar to flu-like symptoms but without the fever.

According to the Durham Housing Authority, all units with gas heating and gas-powered stoves are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, and they will also be checked in the inspections.

"You don't know (carbon monoxide) unless you have that detector," Elaine Towner, DFD's Community Risk Reduction representative, explained to ABC11. "That's it. That's your first line of detection if you have gas appliances in your home."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates more than 400 people in the U.S. die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year, and more than 20,000 visit the emergency room.

The CDC offers the following tips to protecting your home and your family from CO exposure:
  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Don't heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don't use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
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