PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As temperatures turn colder this week, there will be more demand on furnaces to heat homes.
But officials are reminding the public of certain dangers that are associated with some appliances, especially if they’re not ready for the extra demand.
This kind of situation proved deadly for two friends found inside a Clairton home Saturday.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner confirms that 55-year-old William Chapman and his friend 48-year-old Gary Townsend died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
They were found in chapman’s house wearing coats, because the furnace was not working properly and there was no carbon monoxide detector in the home to warn them.
“He was just talking to me asking me about getting his furnace together,” Chapman’s nephew Kenneth Chapman said.
“Just didn’t make it out of there,” his sister Cheryl Townsend said.
According to the Clairton Fire Department, the carbon monoxide reading was 500 parts per million, 50 times higher than the level that’s considered safe.
It was so dangerous firefighters had to wait for the house to ventilate before they could go inside.
Carbon monoxide is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Like the Clairton Fire department, Duquesne firefighters use meters to determine gas levels.
“I will count on this meter with my life depending on it, as if you should count on a detector deployed in your residence,” Duquesne Fire Department Assistant Chief Frank Cobb said. “Anywhere from a 150 to 200 parts-per-million is extremely dangerous and can cause death immediate death.”
So far this year, Cobb says his department has responded to five carbon monoxide emergencies and not all of the residences had detectors.
“No fatals,” Cobb said, “but some cases we’ve had patients transported and checked out by medics for conditions such as headaches and vomiting.”
Carbon monoxide detectors usually start at $15 to $50. Some are combined with smoke detectors.
Cobb stresses that every home should have one.
“Your family can be in there sleeping and at any time a corroded pipe, a blocked appliance, a blocked flue to a chimney can be clogged and start letting off CO gases and your family will never know they’re being exposed to high levels of CO.”