JASPER, Ind. – An Indiana mother has a warning for you to hear after her family woke up one morning and ended up in hospital. Now, they want to make sure no other family has to deal with what’s called “the silent killer.”
For Beth Mehringer and her son, Usman, September 19 is a scary morning to relive.
“Am I having a stroke, am I having a heart attack? But I knew that something major was going on and I needed to get ahold of someone to come help me,” said Mehringer.
It wasn’t either of those that Beth and her son were waking up to.
“When I realized it was carbon monoxide poisoning and he’s not with me. I can’t explain the terror that goes through a mom or any parent when they’re worried about where their child is and whether they’re safe or not," said Mehringer.
Mehringer screamed out to her son, but no response.
“It can do massive, humongous amounts of damage and it’s just scary,” said Usman.
The ambulance arrived and they took Mehringer to the hospital. However, Usman was left in the basement.
“I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t talk or anything. I thought I was going to die. Then the next thing I knew I was in the hospital,” said Usman.
By the time rescue crews found Usman, he was in bad shape. He had to be airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children. He’s now suffering from partial paralysis.
“We have to drive the longest drive to get to Indy twice a week, just to have an hour doctor’s appointment. It’s just really tiring,” said Usman.
Every year more than 20,000 people in the United States are sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning. Albert Donnay specializes in prevention and testing in Maryland.
“We can’t smell it, see it, hear it, or taste it. If you don’t have a CO alarm, there’s nothing else to warn you,” said Donnay.
The warning is critical.
“There are more deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning than any other poisons,” said Donnay. “We can’t smell it, see it, hear it, or taste it. If you don’t have a CO alarm, there’s nothing else to warn you.”
Donnay stresses that every home should have a digital display carbon monoxide detector. A digital display gives you some warning of CO levels before the alarm. Otherwise, you’ll never be warned.
Mehringer did have a detector but the warning, did not go off. That’s why she’s hoping her story will remind homeowners to double check their batteries.
“It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector, it’s important to test them,” said Mehringer.
That’s because a detector could mean the difference between life and death.
Mehringer also wanted to stress that first responders need to understand the importance of carbon monoxide poisoning and know what the symptoms are and what hypoxia looks like. In her case, the first responders weren’t aware of what medical issue she was having. That’s why it took hours before they found it was carbon monoxide poisoning, leaving Usman down in the basement for so long.
“As an emergency responder I would be assessing that scene to look to see if there are kids, or other people here,” said Mehringer.
“They may go blind, death and numb and go in a coma, but in the other extreme they may become hyper sensitive to light and sound touch and odor. And if that’s the case they should suspect carbon monoxide poisoning as well,” said Donnay.
According to Lok Wishing Tree Foundation, Indiana is one of just a few states that currently does not require carbon monoxide protection.