DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Five people are fighting for their lives after being poisoned by carbon monoxide while trying to stay warm, according to the Dodge City Police Department.
Police officers were dispatched shortly after 4 a.m. Monday to the 100 block of 16th Ave. The call they were responding to reported dead people inside a house.
Once at the scene, officers say they were able to see two people slumped over in a living room through a window. The officers went inside the house and noticed the two people inside were breathing very shallow.
Officers reported smelling the “familiar odor of thick vehicle exhaust” in the air as soon as they opened the door to the home.
As officers were grabbing the two people, they saw a third. They brought the two people outside, and while retrieving the third, they noticed the door from the house to the garage was open and saw another person in a car parked in the closed-off attached garage.
While bringing out the third person, the Dodge City Fire Department arrived on the scene. Officers were able to tell firefighters that there was still a person inside. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus’ then entered the house and opened the garage door. Police officers entered and recovered the fourth person from the vehicle.
Firefighters searched the remaining rooms in the house and found a fifth person in another bedroom that they carried outside.
Ford County Fire and EMS arrived on the scene and transferred the five victims by ambulance to Western Plains Medical Complex. From there, they were flown out to multiple locations.
According to the DCPD, all five people were still alive, but an updated prognosis is not good.
An investigation is ongoing.
“At this time, this appears to be a tragic accident caused by one subject running the vehicle inside the closed garage,” said the DCPD in a Facebook post. “The fumes filled the residence through the open interior door and made the others sick to the point of unconsciousness before ever realizing what was happening and why.”
Dodge City police say that one of the people in the home was on the phone with their mother in Guatemala when they passed out. Police report that their mother tried for over two hours to get help from friends in Dodge City before reaching out to the friend who found them and called the police.
The victims are adult males, four of them are brothers and the fifth is an adult son of one of them.
Here are some ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from the Centers for Disease Control.
- Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- Do seek prompt medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
- Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
- Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
- Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
- Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
Authorities urge you to purchase a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Some may plug into the electrical outlet, while some may operate on batteries alone. It is recommended to have some of both in your home. Have one installed near the location you sleep in and have additional ones installed on each level of your home.
“Make sure you have your furnace, especially this time of year when you’re getting ready to start running your furnaces, your fireplaces, have those checked by a qualified person who knows what they’re doing that way they can make sure they’re running correctly and you don’t have issues with carbon monoxide,” says Fire Chief Ken Spencer, Dodge City Fire Department.
Most fire departments will help install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge.