As Tennesseans pack up and head out to their favorite campsites, the State Fire Marshal’s Office urges campers to be aware of carbon monoxide dangers in and around tents and RVs.
Carbon monoxide (CO), often called “the silent killer,” is an invisible, odorless gas created when fuels (such as kerosene, gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. Carbon monoxide can result from camping equipment, such as barbecue grills, portable generators or other fuel-powered devices, the Daily Herald, Columbia, reported.
“Carbon monoxide levels from barbecue grills or portable generators can increase quickly in enclosed spaces,” said State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Campers should keep and use these items in well-ventilated areas to avoid fumes leaking into the openings or vents of RVs and tents.”
Nearly two years ago in Clarksville, Tenn., five campers died in their sleep when fumes from a generator seeped into their rented RV. The RV’s carbon monoxide detector, which could have prevented the deaths, was found to have no batteries.
As a result of this tragedy, rented RVs are now required by Tennessee law to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector before being leased for use. The bill also holds RV rental companies responsible if they fail to document and test the CO detectors in their leased vehicles. It is important to note that this law only applies to rentals. It is still imperative that personal RV owners stay diligent in testing and changing the batteries of the carbon monoxide detectors in their own campers.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headache, nausea and drowsiness. Extremely high levels of poisoning can be fatal, causing death within minutes. Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately move to a fresh air location and call 9-1-1 or the fire department.
The Delta County, Colo., coroner said a 50-year-old man found dead in a camping trailer with three ill friends died from carbon monoxide poisoning, KMGH-TV, Denver, reported.
Paramedics were dispatched to the Valley Sunset RV Park at 1675 Highway 92 in Delta on Saturday evening (Jan. 1) on a report of several victims found unconscious in a camping trailer.
They pulled two women and a man from the trailer alive, but Jack Herrera was already dead. His death has been ruled accidental by the coroner.
The three other people, including Herrera’s wife, were rushed the few blocks to Delta County Memorial Hospital. Two of the three have since been released. The third is expected to go home today.
A dog and cat also survived.
The source of the carbon monoxide is under investigation.
The Marion County (Ind.) Health Department heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to warn fans about the dangers of carbon monoxide.
The group this month is giving 10,000 informational handouts to owners of recreation vehicles parked near the track, according to WIBC Radio.
Jeff Laramore, manager of hazardous materials at the Marion County Health Department, says it’s important for RVs to be equipped with specialized carbon monoxide detectors.
“Because of the way they operate, they typically require a different type of detector than the ones usually found in a person’s home,” Laramore said.
The health department first launched the educational outreach initiative during the 2008 Brickyard 400, after an RV parked near the track in May of that same year filled with carbon monoxide, killing one person and hospitalizing three others.
Laramore says people are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning in stagnant air. With no wind, the invisible and odorless gas coming from generators can reach dangerous levels inside RVs.
Hundreds of people die each year from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances and thousands go to emergency rooms for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.