Following the death of a seven year old boy in Buchanan County, authorities recommended taking precautions against carbon monoxide.
The cause of the boy’s death is still under investigation. Two others, an adult and a child, were found in the Whitewood area home with him. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s office said that the death is believed to be related to an alternate heater.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas given off from burning fuel. If it is allowed to build up, it can be deadly.
"You have flu-like symptoms,” Abingdon Fire Chief John McCormick said. “You think you may be coming down with the flu and go to sleep and just never wake up."
The gas affects thousands every year.
"Throughout the whole United States you've got about 400 deaths,” McCormick said. “You've got about 20,000 reported where people actually go to the emergency room."
The chief said many people do not have alarms for carbon monoxide, even if they have appliances that could put them at risk.
McCormick said anyone with a fuel powered device or indoor garage should have a carbon monoxide alarm.
"It's recommended that you have a carbon monoxide alarm that actually gives you a reading to tell you what the highest level - the parts per million are," he said.
Some take that advice seriously.
"My wife, several years ago, she got after me about buying some,” Charles Castle of Bristol said. “We ended up with them, and I'm comfortable with them. It's a good safety feature."
Mccormick said if you hear an alarm go off leave the house, close the door, and call 911. Firefighters will check the house for a gas buildup. He also recommended getting annual safety inspections of heaters, fireplaces, and ventilation.
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