Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

December 4, 2012

Carbon monoxide sickens 42 kids at Ga. school

ATLANTA — Potentially lethal carbon monoxide levels at an Atlanta elementary school with no detectors sent at least 42 students and seven adults to hospitals Monday and forced 500 more to evacuate, authorities said.

Young children with oxygen masks over their faces were strapped to gurneys and others carried to ambulances by emergency officials at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta. Four kids reported passing out at the school, according to hospital officials. A teacher and a cafeteria worker were also among those treated.

Firefighters found unsafe levels of carbon monoxide near a furnace at the school with a reading at 1,700 parts per million, said Atlanta fire Capt. Marian McDaniel.

The colorless, odorless gas can be deadly at that concentration, said Stephanie Hon, assistant director of the Georgia Poison Center.

Superintendent Erroll Davis praised school officials for quickly evacuating after children started getting sick and said officials were considering installing carbon monoxide detectors in schools. Finch Elementary did not have a detector, and state officials said there are no code requirements for such equipment in K-12 schools. It’s unlikely that schools around the state are equipped with such detectors, said Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education.

Twenty-five states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut takes that a step further and requires detectors in all public and nonpublic schools, while Maryland recently enacted a law requiring detectors in newly constructed and remodeled schools, according to Scott Hendrick, program manager with the NCSL.

Bridgette Berry, a grandmother of two students at the school, said the children — ages 6 and 7 — were checked out at the hospital. The family was given a form instructing them to keep a close eye on the children and alert medical officials if they exhibit any symptoms such as a headache, Berry said.

Berry said school officials must put in carbon monoxide detectors.

“They’re not going back unless they get them,” Berry said.

Her son and the children’s father, Marquis Berry, said the family feels fortunate the situation wasn’t worse and frustrated about what he called a lack of communication from the school.

“I had to find out about it on the news,” he said.

District officials said they worked to notify parents, but some did not have updated contact information on file.

Of the 42 children taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding, the first four were already showing improved oxygen levels by the time they arrived, said Dr. Naghma Khan, the emergency room director.

She said those four received oxygen and were sent home with their parents since they were not demonstrating severe symptoms. The rest of the children were being released to their parents, she said. A few children were still being brought to the hospital by concerned parents, she said.

“We were really lucky that this didn’t go any further than that,” Khan said.

Davis, the superintendent, said the investigation continues into what caused the leak. He said authorities suspect the issue started with the boiler, which passed state inspection in 2011 and was not due for another look until 2013.

Other students were sent to a nearby middle school until their parents picked them up.

Meanwhile, fire officials said they were ventilating the school, which was expected to reopen Tuesday as long as it’s cleared by the fire marshal.

In Baltimore last year, officials vowed to put carbon monoxide detectors in all of the system’s approximately 200 schools after two carbon monoxide leaks within a week’s time at one of the schools.

City officials in Baltimore said the battery-powered detectors cost $15 each wholesale.

Hon, with the Georgia Poison Center, said children can be more susceptible to carbon monoxide than adults due to their size.

She said it can be easy for initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to be confused with the flu since both include malaise, headache, nausea and vomiting. A few key differences: Carbon monoxide poisoning generally does not cause a fever, and a person usually starts feeling better once he or she is moved to an area with fresh air, Hon said.

Most children did not show severe symptoms, likely because their exposure was brief and because the leak originated far from them, Hon said.

“The good news is that they sound like mild to moderate symptoms,” Hon said. “Luckily those kinds of exposures do not carry significant long-term health risks, especially with the children involved.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Johnson family files second suit against school system

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson's parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bears spotted on Baytree Road

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 29, 2014

  • photo.JPG Dump truck suspects apprehended

    LCSO has apprehended both of the suspects believed to be connected with the theft of a dump truck in Macon on Monday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results