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Recent Deaths in Springfield Point to Need for Carbon Monoxide Awareness

Matthew Bellemare

Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected as the cause of death of a Springfield couple found recently in their central Springfield home.  Dwane and Judith Crigger died July 8 in their home on S. Kickapoo.

How worried should we be that this could happen to us?  Enough that homeowners should regularly check equipment that’s fuel-burning, according to Daphne (DAF-nee) Greenlee, trauma outreach and Safe Kids coordinator at Mercy Springfield.

"What families can do is, you know, anything like your heating systems and your water heaters and things like that, have them tested by a professional--make sure that they're in good working order," she said.

Sources of carbon monoxide, she said, are things that burn gas, including natural gas, propane and kerosene.

"So, it could be a furnace, your fireplace, hot water heater.  It could also be some portable equipment like space heaters and stoves, or your charcoal grills can actually give off that," said Greenlee.

She said to keep grills outside and away from windows.

The best advice for homeowners, she said, is to purchase carbon monoxide alarms.  According to Greenlee, those should be installed on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas.

Greenlee said you should have carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.

She feels there’s not as much awareness about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors as there is about smoke detectors, but they are just as important.

"Parents are needing to be aware that there is a danger for carbon monoxide poisoning and so this is one way, you know, they can do it with such an inexpensive device and just having it in proper working condition," she said.

Often people don’t realize symptoms they’re experiencing are the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Greenlee, because they can mimic flu symptoms:  upset stomach, fatigue, dizziness and headache.  If you feel better when you go outside or an entire family is affected, she advises going outside and calling 9-1-1.