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Plymouth family evacuated after dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside home

A Plymouth family was evacuated from their home Tuesday after dangerous levels of carbon monoxide built up inside from a malfunctioning furnace in their basement, Plymouth fire officials said.

Firefighters responded to the single family home on Kings Pond Plain Road and discovered carbon monoxide levels of 75 parts per million in the basement, and between 25 and 30 parts per million in other parts of the house.

Two adults and three young children — a 10-year-old, a 22-month-old, and a 2-month-old — were rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth for treatment to exposure of the gas that is odorless and colorless, Plymouth Fire Chief G. Edward Bradley said in a statement. A fourth child who went to school was taken to the hospital for a medical examination.

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All of the adults and children have since been released, Bradley said.

Sustained exposure to carbon monoxide levels exceeding 150 parts per million can lead to “disorientation, unconsciousness, and death” the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns. “As CO levels increase and remain above 70 parts per million, symptoms become more noticeable and can include headache, fatigue and nausea.”

The house had an active CO alarm and smoke alarms that had been installed in 1999, the department said.

“The carbon monoxide detector in the home and smoke alarms from 1999 that sounded off after firefighters arrived on the scene,” the department said. “Both the detector and the alarms sounded off too late into the incident to alert the home’s occupants.”

Investigators concluded that a malfunctioning furnace was the source of the carbon monoxide. The furnace was shut off and the house was ventilated for an hour before the family could safely return.

Bradley said the incident Tuesday should be a warning to residents across the state as the heating season begins in earnest.

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“It is imperative that every home has working and up-to-date carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms,” Bradley said. “Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms are instrumental to your safety while in your home as they alert you to potential dangers that may occur.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides safety recommendations for carbon monoxide concerns in residential setting. They include:

- If your carbon monoxide detector is sounding, call 911 immediately.

- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.

- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes.

- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished.

- Never use your oven for heating your home.



John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.