Five hospitalized after carbon monoxide exposure at Durham apartment complex

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Five people had to be taken to the hospital early Thursday morning after being exposed to carbon monoxide at a Durham apartment building.

The Durham Fire Department was notified about the carbon monoxide alarm just after 3:15 a.m. at 1205 N. Miami Blvd.

Officials evacuated residents after Kenneth Johnson called 911 and said he thought the neighbors were running a generator in the basement.

"Everyone needs to have one," he said. "Definitely if it starts beeping. Just get out and call."

Three residents were able to leave on their own, but one was found unresponsive and needed to be removed by firefighters.

A total of five people were taken to Duke University Medical Center.

Officials monitored the apartments for carbon monoxide, and said very high levels of CO were found.

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas and is a by-product of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide can cause headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, confusion, vomiting, or all of the above.

As the heating season begins, and the possibility of power outages increases, the Durham Fire Department is reminding all residents that a generator should never be used inside a building or in the crawl space of a building.

"If you've got wood burning fire grill inside and cooking inside all those things are going to produce carbon monoxide," Durham Deputy Fire Chief Chris Iannuzzi said.

Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the proper distance the generator should be placed from a building; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends 25 feet or more.

Officials say when using a generator, it is also important to have a working carbon monoxide alarm on each floor of the building, preferably close to the sleeping areas.

If you need a detector, reach out to your local fire department, as part of Operation Save A Life. Click here for more details

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