JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Five children and three adults were taken to the hospital by Jacksonville Fire and Rescue paramedics early Friday morning and two other people checked themselves into the hospital after carbon monoxide collected inside a Baymeadows apartment.
Jacksonville firefighters said they were called about 4 a.m. to what was first believed to be a gas leak. Once they realized how many people were affected, JFRD elevated it to a mass casualty incident.
A JFRD captain told News4Jax a charcoal grill was being used inside the apartment where the leak was reported. It’s unclear why the family brought the grill inside.
Four adjacent or nearby apartments were also evacuated while the levels of carbon monoxide were checked. Out of the four units, three needed to be aired out with fans, but all the people treated were in the apartment where the grill was found.
Officials with Baptist Health said the five children were being treated at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and three of the adults were being treated at the Baptist Medical Center Downtown.
Wolfson’s chief of pediatrics said children all were suffering from mild to moderate carbon monoxide poising. Dr. Mark Toney said they are likely to be kept for observation for 24 hours, but they all should recover.
“They were in the mild to moderate side. They did not have any of the altered mental status or the significant neurological symptoms that one would expect with a severe case of carbon monoxide poisoning," Toney said. “We provide them with oxygen at 100% at a high rate so that, instead of the carbon monoxide being attached to the hemoglobin, it’s replaced with the oxygen. Children’s metabolism (is) faster than ours. They breathe faster than us, so they are breathing in at a higher rater, so their carbon monoxide levels can get to a higher level faster than an adult who is breathing at a slower rate.”
Baptist officials said one adult was released from Baptist Medical Center and two others are still being treated. The condition of the two others who drove themselves to the hospital is not known.
The city Fire Marshal’s Office told News4Jax that the complex does not have or use any gas-powered equipment in its units, so the source of the carbon monoxide would have to come from the tenant.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. The gas is found in fumes from fuel, stoves, fireplaces and furnaces.
If the gas leaks or builds up in a closed space, like indoors, it can kill people and animals.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning
- upset stomach
- chest pain
Toney said the intensity of symptoms depends on the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air, how many times per minute you are breathing and how much air you take in per breath.
In the United States, there are more than 50,000 exposures of non-fire-related carbon monoxide and several hundred deaths per year, according to Toney.
People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they are aware of the symptoms.