9-year-old gets carbon monoxide poisoning, mom blames NJ school bus
SPARTA — A fourth-grade boy has been diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning after two days of flu-like symptoms — and his mother suspects his public school bus is to blame.
Carey Anne Bomensatt, the 9-year-old boy's mother, told the New Jersey Herald her son has been dizzy, having trouble balancing, had a headache and nausea. And when she leaned in to check for a fever, she told the paper, "He smelled like diesel fuel."
According to the report, school officials took the bus out of service for assessment Thursday after Bomensatt notified another parent, who in turn notified the district. Bomensatt told the Herald her calls to the district went unanswered, and she worries other parents weren't informed of the potential problem.
School officials told the paper Bomensatt's son is the only one they know of who has fallen ill. But she said her family has CO detectors hardwired into their home, no one else in the family is sick, and her son hasn't been anywhere other than school, the bus and home.
“CO poisoning is called the 'silent killer' because it gives no warning – you can’t see it and you can’t smell it," New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett has previously told New Jersey 101.5. It's more commonly a concern in homes, where officials urge detectors be kept operational at all times.
In January, a carbon monoxide poisoning incident killed a teenage girl and sickened 35 people in Perth Amboy. That incident was blamed on a blocked chimney and a carbon monoxide detector that was not working.
In Mount Olive last August, 12 people, including four police officers, were hospitalized after extremely high levels of carbon monoxide were reported at a home in the Flanders section of town.
New Jersey 101.5's Jeff Deminski and his family had their own brush with carbon monoxide poisoning — alarms woke his family, but his then-newborn baby nonetheless required the use of an oxygen mask at an emergency room. Other family members experienced symptoms of poisoning as well.
State officials make several recommendations about safe operation of generators and other equipment that poses CO risks:
• Have a working carbon monoxide alarm near sleeping areas in addition to conventional working smoke alarm.
• Exercise extreme caution when using a gas-powered generator. Plugging it into a household electrical outlet can result in backfeeding and produce an electrocution hazard.
• Never use a grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside their home, basement, garage or even outside near an open window. The use of these devices can also cause dangerous levels of CO to build in a home.
• If you suspect CO poisoning: Call 911 immediately if anyone is having trouble breathing or unconscious. Exist the home or other enclosed space. From a safe area, call the NJ Poison Experts at 800-222-1222 for immediate treatment advice.
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