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Raleigh death draws attention to carbon monoxide poisoning

Posted November 8, 2010

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— A woman died Sunday and her husband was in an area hospital Monday after police say someone accidentally left a vehicle running in the closed garage at their Raleigh home.

A relative found Sarah Fernside Tanner, 64, of 2602 Askew Drive, dead inside the home from carbon monoxide fumes, police said.

James Mahan Tanner Jr., 64, was taken to Duke University Hospital in Durham for treatment. He was in intensive care Monday afternoon.

Police initially reported that someone unintentionally pressed the remote-start button for the car. They later determined that the car was accidentally left running.

Wake County Medical Director Dr. Brent Myers said cases like this are all too common in winter. Several people die each year, usually from using heaters or letting their vehicles warm up in enclosed spaces, he said.

“The cases are always tragic because it's a very difficult thing to get your brain around,” Myers said. “It’s kind of the perfect storm. You’ve got something you can’t smell, you can’t taste and you can’t detect, and the first thing that it does to you is put you to sleep. So, it’s a dangerous situation.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – including headache, dizziness, weakness and nausea – but that it can be difficult to diagnose because they mimic other illnesses.

Emergency officials recommend using a carbon monoxide detector that is plugged into the wall, so that it does not lose power, and placed in sleeping areas on each level of the home, away from cooking or heating devices.

Prevention guidelines from the CDC also include:

  • Having heating systems, water heaters and other gas-, oil-, or coal-burning appliances services by a qualified technician every year.
  • Seeking prompt medical attention if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.
  • Avoiding the use of generators, grills and other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside the home, basement, garage or near a window.
  • Avoiding running a vehicle inside a garage attached to a house, even if the garage door is open.
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  • dixieboy Nov 9, 2010

    JKA07, Thanks for the correction , point taken.

  • Adelinthe Nov 8, 2010

    AirBorne Daddy - "Every remote starter I have had cuts off after 10 minutes of no action."

    Do car remotes do that, cause seems like that would be a pain in start and stop rush hour traffic. It's not unusual to sit idling for 10 minutes or more.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Adelinthe Nov 8, 2010

    Mom2two - "I'm no scientist, but it is my understanding that CO does not rise, but actually sinks (which is why your plug-in CO detectors are at a low level, and your smoke detectors are up high against the ceiling), so it would take a good while to fill up to the point that it infiltrated other parts of the house."

    That's true, but fill up it does. And if I remember correctly, it's a dense gas that builds and builds, taking a long time to dissipate.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Adelinthe Nov 8, 2010

    This happened to the elderly parents of a friend of mine some years back. They had been shopping and unloaded the car. No one knows why they left the car running in the garage on the bottom floor of a three story townhouse, but they did. Went through the rest of their evening and went to bed. Never woke up.

    Their son came home at 3 am and found them dead. It was awful.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Mom2two Nov 8, 2010

    I'm no scientist, but it is my understanding that CO does not rise, but actually sinks (which is why your plug-in CO detectors are at a low level, and your smoke detectors are up high against the ceiling), so it would take a good while to fill up to the point that it infiltrated other parts of the house.

  • LovemyPirates Nov 8, 2010

    hereandnow99 lol
    Some will not see the irony of your post.

  • cary1969 Nov 8, 2010

    they probably pushed the button but didn't hold it long enough and it was never shut off..

  • bmg379 Nov 8, 2010

    UPDATE: THEY KNOW KNOW A REMOTE WAS NOT USED

  • JAT Nov 8, 2010

    people - there was no remote started used!!! read the updates

  • JAT Nov 8, 2010

    you'd think these houses would have had the gas detectors as well since they're very new. i guess the gas just went up so fast that no one noticed. she may have still been in bed for all we know. wonder if the heat being on had anything to do with it - did the heater help circulate the fumes?

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