CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A heating system working overtime Thursday was blamed for putting nine people in the hospital in Rockland County.
Before dawn Thursday, someone living in the house at 7 Beckett Ct. in Chestnut Ridge called for help after realizing the symptoms of headache, nausea and dizziness might be more than just a winter bug, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.
Paramedics entering the house knew immediately what the problem was, as the carbon monoxide detectors in their med bags went off.
“Their CO levels were quite high,” said Michael Murphy, operations chief for Rockland Paramedics.
The residents in the Braun family home where the leak happened ranged in age from 1 week to 43 years old, authorities said.
Nine people were sleeping in the house at the time, and the mother woke up to check on her youngest – the infant. Her call for help saved their lives, but Murphy said their symptoms were far from clear.
“A lot of times, they’re explained as flu,” he said. “People get headaches, they get weak, and they say, ‘Oh, maybe I have the flu.’ Oftentimes, that’s confused with the flu, and sometimes people just blow it off.”
Murphy said the Brauns “absolutely” were lucky they made the right decision.
CBS2 is told carbon monoxide leaks can happen with a gas or oil heating system, especially if the unit isn’t clean, or it’s in a room that’s poorly ventilated, or the chimney is even partially blocked.
When the heat is running around the clock as it is in the frigid temperatures experienced in the area lately, any one of those things can become a matter of life or death.
Mamaroneck plumber Chaim Cohen said poorly maintained systems have been failing under the stress this winter.
“I think it’s a new record,” Cohen said. “This year, it’s really a new level for heating systems.”
A carbon monoxide alarm can prevent such failures from becoming tragedies. Just such an alarm woke up Valerie Rodriguez in her Pelham Parkway home on Friday.
“They had to air out everything. I had to go to the hospital and I had to get oxygen,” Rodriguez said. “I’m OK now, but I have to, you know, go for further testing.”
Rodriguez said if the alarm had not gone off, she would now be dead.
Carbon monoxide is odorless. The only method of protection is the alarm, or the kind of luck the Braun family of Chestnut Ridge had.
The victims were taken to Nyack Hospital and Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, both in Nyack, Young reported. All are expected to survive.