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Carbon Monoxide Cases Create Deathtraps, Common during Winter

By Adam Pinsker, Multimedia Political Reporter, apinsker@ktuu.com
Published On: Nov 09 2013 07:07:09 PM AKST

Carbon monoxide can kill you.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

In Alaska, surviving cold, dark and long winters means using wood stoves, furnaces and boilers. These devices are as common as air conditioners are in most Florida homes, but they can kill you.

“Carbon Monoxide is odorless, it doesn't have any taste, it doesn't irritate like most other fumes that happen during a fire," said Dr. Javid Kamali, Providence Hospital Pulmonary Specialist.

When those poisonous gasses can't escape through your chimney or furnace, they'll turn your home or any other confined space into a death trap.

On Thursday morning, Angela Hubbard, 24, was found dead in her home off South Kyrsten Circle in Meadow Lakes, between Wasilla and Big Lake. Investigators say she died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Neighbors say Hubbard’s husband, Joseph Hubbard, 28, was also in the home and was airlifted to Seattle for treatment.  The Hubbard’s four year old daughter and two other adults in the home were also overcome by the poisonous gas and are being treated at local hospitals.

Dr. Kamali couldn't comment on this specific case, but did say that some patients who survive carbon monoxide poisoning may never fully recover.

"These are mainly neurological symptom such as memory loss, such as cognitive thinking has been impaired," said Dr. Kamali.

In extreme cases, hyperbaric chambers can be used to compress the toxic fumes out of your system.

Fire officials say this deadly scenario can be easily prevented. Chief of the Meadow Lakes Fire Department Bill Gamble says investing in a carbon monoxide detector can be a life saver.

"Actually, you should have a co detector placed anywhere you have smoke detector or in that vicinity,” said Chief Gamble.  “Typically, smoke detectors and CO's you can purchase as one unit, but some people prefer to have separate co detectors and smoke detectors."

Fire officials recommend placing that carbon monoxide alarm below the smoke detector. These devices usually range from $30 to $50. 

Although carbon monoxide poisoning is common in the winter months, it can also occur in the summer.  Culprits can be campfires, generators and cars parked in garages emit deadly carbon monoxide.