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Second Beltrami County carbon monoxide poisoning sickens four

Four Bemidji residents were treated and released Tuesday at North Country Regional Hospital after showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to a press release from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office:

The Bemidji Fire Department responded just before 7 a.m. to a residence on the 5000 block of Bemidji Avenue North in Northern Township.

One of the residents had called the Fire Hall advising of a possible gas leak. Bemidji Fire, Bemidji Ambulance, West Squad First Responders and the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene. Minnesota Energy also responded.

Four occupants were found to be ill due to a high level of carbon monoxide in the home. Three were transported to NCRH by ambulance and a fourth went by private vehicle. All four were treated and released.

Although the residence did have a carbon monoxide detector, it did not have batteries in it.

The names of those involved have not been released.

It is the second serious carbon monoxide incident that occurred in the Bemidji area in recent weeks. Colleen Lynn Jennings, 50, died Jan. 30 of apparent CO poisoning in an incident that sickened seven others, including three emergency responders.

CO detectors

With furnaces working overtime, residents should make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors, as required by law, installed in their homes and apartments.

Carbon monoxide can come from any inadequately burned and vented fuel sources, including automobiles, water heaters, furnaces, boilers, kerosene heaters, ranges/stoves, dryers, grills, fireplaces and portable generators.

Working CO detectors in homes and ensuring heating equipment is in top operating condition by having them inspected on a regular basis are crucial. An improperly adjusted furnace or boiler can create CO, and blocked or inadequate venting can cause the CO to accumulate indoors.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, "There are approximately 2,100 unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide (CO) every year in the U.S., and the use of CO alarms could potentially prevent many of these fatalities. In addition, more than 10,000 CO injuries occur annually from this colorless, odorless and tasteless poison."

Prolonged exposure to CO fumes can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Early warning signs include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting. Anyone who encounters these danger signs or whose CO detector goes off should evacuate the premises and call 911 from another location.

CO safety tips:

-- Install CO detectors/alarms within 15 feet of each sleeping area.

-- Test CO detectors/alarms at least once a month; replace batteries at least twice a year and follow manufacturer's guidelines for the installation and maintenance of CO detectors.

-- CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of the smoke alarm and the CO alarm.

-- Have fuel-burning heating equipment - fireplaces, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, wood and coal stoves, space heaters or other portable heaters - and chimneys inspected by a professional every year.