2012-01-25 / Features

Carbon Monoxide Kills Father, Son


A 66-year-old father and his 29-year-old son were found dead in their Ozone Park home on January 14, both overcome by carbon monoxide that leaked from a portable heater, fire officials said.

Kuo-Kung Chen and Aaron Chen were found unconscious at about 6:50 p.m. in separate bedrooms in a ground floor apartment at the family home on 101st Avenue and 91st Street.

The elder man’s daughter, Marion, 33, told investigators she spoke with her father on the phone on the night of January 12. The daughter said she became concerned when her father didn’t show up at her home in Wantagh, L.I. on January 13 to babysit his 12-year-old granddaughter.

After contacting other family members who said they had not heard from her father or brother since January 12, Marion went to the family home – only to find the doors locked, police sources said.

The woman found an unlocked window and crawled into the home where she found the family dog ill and motionless, the sources said. Moments later, she found her brother on the floor of his bedroom and her father on the bed inside his bedroom.

Fire Department paramedics who responded to a 911 call got an immediate alarm on the carbon monoxide meters they carry. The meters registered high levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, poisonous gas inside the home, fire officials said.

Investigators who are still probing the deaths said they believe a portable heater was responsible for emitting the poisonous gas.

Following the deaths, FDNY officials released a statement urging residents to make sure they own a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

“Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the silent killer for good reason,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said.

Under current New York City law, landlords are required to install and maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in tenants’ apartments. Residents in apartments that have not been equipped with the detectors are urged to call 311 to report the condition.

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can be produced from improperly vented furnaces, plugged or cracked chimneys, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves and automobile tail pipes, fire officials said.

Fire officials urge you to follow these steps if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:

•Leave your home or business.

•Call 911.

•Get any victims to fresh air immediately, including family pets (cats and dogs).

•Open windows.

•Call your local utility or repairman to find and fix the leak.
Fire officials also urge you to follow these carbon monoxide safety tips:

•Make sure all fuel-burning items – furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, clothes dryers and space heaters are properly ventilated.

•If you have a working fireplace, keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.

•Never turn on your oven to heat your kitchen or home, or operate gas or charcoal barbecue grills, kerosene or oil burning heaters in an enclosed space.

•Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Check and change batteries on a regular basis.

•Recognize signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, the most common symptom of which is headache. Symptoms may also include dizziness, chest pain, nausea and vomiting.
Emergency telephone tips:

•When calling 911, specify the type of emergency (fire, medical, police) and be prepared to answer questions.

•During any emergency, please use the telephone only when absolutely necessary to keep the line free for emergency calls, fire officials said. You may also report emergencies online at www.nyc.gov.

•Do not call 911 for non-emergencies or to report a power outage. Call 311 for assistance with all non-emergencies, such as noise or sanitation complaints.


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