INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s known as being a silent killer.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can take effect on its victims within minutes, as it nearly did at one Jackson County home last week.
Darrin Babson, whose family lives near U.S. Highway 24 in Independence, said he wasn’t certain what was happening until it was nearly too late.
Babson said last Wednesday morning he returned home from an appointment. That’s when he found seven of his loved ones, including four children younger than age nine, unconscious or experiencing bad headaches or visible nausea.
“I called 911 and told them my family was essentially being affected by carbon monoxide poisoning and I needed EMS,” Babson told FOX4.
Babson works as a social worker and said he recognized the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning through experiences he’s had on the job. He pulled everyone outside the house while waiting for paramedics to arrive. High levels of carbon monoxide can be deadly.
“Every person in the home except me had what is considered a lethal amount of carbon monoxide poisoning in their bloodstream,” Babson said. “I put off going to the hardware store the previous day and buying CO detectors. I recognized the signs. I just put it off.”
Independence Fire and EMS workers answered the call for help. Parademic Matt Bulloc was one of three first responders at the home.
“Our (carbon monoxide) monitors immediately started going audible on us,” Bulloc said. “Our biggest priority was to get everyone out of the structure into the fresh air. As soon as we got them out, we had four different ambulances on scene.”
Babson said most of his family members were treated at hospitals. He said it was a faulty water heater that caused the carbon monoxide leak.
EMS workers said they get carbon monoxide poisoning calls this time of year, as people use ovens to heat their homes, or they fire up warming devices that haven’t been used for months.
“(Carbon monoxide detectors) are incredibly effective, and they’re incredibly important. It’s the only method you have of getting ahead of that, finding out there’s a problem before everybody gets sick,” Independence Fire Asst. Chief Craig Duplantis said.
Most hardware stores sell carbon monoxide detectors, some of which are as affordable as $20. One fire prevention expert told FOX4 it’s recommended that CO detectors are placed in the home’s master bedroom, since that’s where people tend to spend the majority of their time.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. I don’t want anyone to have the experience of finding their family members unresponsive and unconscious — or dead,” Babson said.