Several Northlanders Hospitalized from Possible Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Several Northlanders were hospitalized due to possible exposure, some were airlifted into Duluth.

VIRGINIA, Minn.- Seven Northlanders on the Iron Range are in the hospital after possible carbon monoxide exposure.

The owner of the residence where this happened says three people live in the home and four others were visiting. Their condition has not been released Sunday. Fire Department Officials say it’s important for people to be educated about this silent killer.

The Virginia Fire Department received a call around 10 a.m Sunday morning with reports of a possible carbon monoxide exposure at 1201 19th St. South. Seven people have been taken to the hospital.

“Everybody that was in this building was at least exposed,” Virginia Fire Department Chief Kevin Spoffs said.

The incident is under investigation, some of the people inside were airlifted into Duluth. Officials that arrived on scene were also taken into the hospital for exposure but have since been cleared.

The home owners say they do everything they can to keep the house safe and up to code.

According to the Fire Marshall carbon monoxide detectors were installed at the residence, but at this time its unknown if the detectors went off. Carbon monoxide, is hard to detect without the proper equipment. CO is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas.

“So people don’t even know if they’re being exposed unless they have a detector that is warning them of this,” Spoff said. “As the exposure increases or parts per million increase, can lead all the way up to unconsciousness, apnea, or the patient not breathing.”

The gas is very harmful and often referred to as the “silent killer.” It causes nearly 20,000 emergency room visits per year according to the Center for Disease Control. When exposed individuals experience flu like symptoms.

“People can simply feel weak, tired, some nausea, may some general malaise,” Spoff said. “Those symptoms are very subtle it isn’t something that jumps out at a lot of people. So that’s why you need to have the detectors.”

Minnesota law requires homeowners to supply houses with detectors, but keeping the equipment up and running isn’t just one party’s responsibility.

“It is also the tenants’ responsibility; that they keep them plugged in or a fresh battery, and keep them operable,” Spoff said.

Detectors should be placed on every floor. This time of year many Northlanders are hosting holiday gathering.

Officials said homeowners should notify guests where fire extinguishers and escape ladders are located, as well as the best emergency exit to ensure safety.

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