Boy dies, sister in critical condition from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning

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LINDEN, N.J. – A 9-year-old boy died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning and his 10-year-old sister is fighting for her life Tuesday, police in New Jersey said.

The children were found about 7:30 a.m. in their home along Passaic Avenue in Linden, police said. Their 45-year-old mother discovered them unresponsive in their rooms and began CPR.

Emergency responders rushed the siblings to the hospital where the boy, 9, died and the girl, 10, was listed in extremely critical condition, police said.

Investigators are looking at a boiler – located beneath the children’s bedrooms – as a possible source of the deadly gas.

Linden Public Schools Superintendent Danny Robertozzi released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding boy's death.  According to Robertozzi, the victim was a third grader at School No. 4.

"The entire Linden Public School community is deeply saddened by this tragedy," the statement read. "Our most heartfelt sympathies and thoughts go out to the family and the entire School No. 4 community."

Grief counselors and support assistance will be on hand for the rest of the week for students, staff and families.

The victim has not been identified at this time.

Officials in town emphasizing the importance of carbon monoxide detectors for this very reason.

In fact, Local firefighters and the American Red Cross have been working together in the area for the past year going door to door educating residents about this very danger.

Captain James Sarnicki says this home on Passaic Avenue did in fact have a carbon monoxide detector, but it wasn't working because the batteries inside were corroded.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that could kill anyone who breathes too much of it. Symptoms of CO poisoning are often described as flu-like and can include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 400 people die from unintentional CO poisoning every year in the U.S., the CDC said.

To prevent CO poisoning in your home, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
  • When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors, as shown below. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal - red, gray, black, or white - gives off CO.
  • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
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