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On Heels Of Power Outages, Carbon Monoxide Shows Its Dangers

(Graphic by Ed Fischer)

(Graphic by Ed Fischer)

Paul Kurtz Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a Philadelphia native who has been working as a reporter...
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By Paul Kurtz

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — The aftermath of yesterday’s ice storm now includes a rash of carbon monoxide poisoning cases in the suburbs.

Across the Delaware Valley, around 50 people have been sickened by carbon monoxide fumes as of Thursday afternoon, with Chester County leading the way.

“We ended up with six incidents and 25 people being treated with monoxide poisoning,” says Bobby Kagel, the county’s deputy director of emergency management services He says that in one case, five members of a New Garden Township family were sickened while cooking on a charcoal grill inside their apartment.

“The problem is the carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas,” Kagel warns, “so you don’t necessarily know about it. So that’s why we encourage folks to have carbon monoxide alarms even if they’re running generators outside in a well-ventilated area. And we never, ever want people to operate gas grills or generators inside.”

Kagel says danger also lurks in attached garages. It doesn’t matter if the doors are up, he says — the fumes can still seep into the house.

Bucks and Montgomery counties have so far logged four cases each of carbon monoxide poisoning, affecting a total of about 10 to 20 people in each county.  All the victims were treated and have recovered.

No cases were reported in Delaware County as of this afternoon.  “We’re blue collar — we know how to operate generators,” says Ed Pruitt, director of emergency services for Delaware County.

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