In a devastating turn of events, an entire family of eight died on Tuesday, April 7th when carbon monoxide filled the home of Rodney Todd and his seven children while they slept. The Washington Post reports that the family had been using a generator to heat their Princess Anne home, after Delmarva Power removed their meter claiming that it had been stolen and installed illegally.

The children ranged in age from 5 to 15; the youngest would have been 6 on April 11th.

This incredibly heartbreaking story is perhaps even more difficult to bear because carbon monoxide poisoning is avoidable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Installing a carbon monoxide detector. Make sure you have a CO detector on every floor of your home, and within 15 feet of each bedroom door. CO detectors should be mounted on the wall, a few feet below the ceiling. Replace the batteries when you change the clocks so that you always remember to do it.
  • Making sure your gas appliances are vented. Check the pipes often for leaks, and call a service technician if you have a gas refrigerator and smell something “funny;” even though carbon monoxide is odorless, it can cause the gas leaking from your fridge to smell. Do not attempt to “fix” leaky pipes with tape or gum.
  • Never using a generator indoors. Do not use a portable flameless chemical heater, charcoal grill or a portable gas camp stove in doors, nor rely on a gas over for heat. If you use a generator, make sure it is at least 20 feet away from your windows, doors or vents.
  • Be careful in the garage. Do not run your car in the garage with the door closed, as CO can build up in the garage. That gas can leak into the house, too, putting your family at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO poisoning does not always kill, but it can make a person pass out. In the tragic case of the Todd family, they were already sleeping when the gas overtook them. If you believe you have carbon monoxide poisoning, you should seek medical attention right away.

Our hearts go out to the Todd family and their loved ones. Their grief must be incalculable. They will be in our thoughts and our prayers tonight.

From all of us here at Paulson & Nace, PLC, we beg you: please learn the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, and check the safety of your home today. You cannot afford to wait another minute.