At least four adults and a dog have died in three separate carbon monoxide poisoning cases, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday, while a dozen others have been sickened or survived close calls in other incidents.
Limited information is currently available, the sheriff’s office said, as the county medical examiner is still investigating and families have asked for privacy in some of the cases.
However, police did confirm the three fatal incidents that occurred between Feb. 13 and 15 — all involving adults who died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Clackamas County.
The first involved a single adult whom police belied ignited charcoal briquettes in a small, enclosed area — apparently in an attempt to stay warm. The individual died of carbon monoxide poisoning on Saturday, Feb. 13.
On Valentine’s Day night, a man was alone with his dog in his recreational vehicle, without electricity, when the propane heating source evidently malfunctioned. Police said the RV with a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector, which alerted a neighbor to the man’s dire situation.
The neighbor found the man unconscious. He was transported to an area hospital and ultimately died from suspected to be carbon monoxide poisoning. The subject’s dog was also found dead.
Finally, in a similar case on Presidents’ Day, two adults who lost power to their home were in their RV, using a propane heating source that appeared to not be functioning properly. Both adults died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, a family of six brought a charcoal barbecue inside their home to use as a heat source. Emergency crews responded and treated two family members on scene for carbon monoxide poisoning, and transported the other four family members to the hospital for treatment.
And on Tuesday, Feb. 16, a total of six adults in a Gladstone home were using a gas generator for power, located inside a shed attached to the home.
One resident woke up in the morning smelling fumes, and emergency crews were summoned. Four adults were able to make it out of the residence — some with assistance from responding officers.
Firefighters donned self-contained breathing apparatus and entered the house — pulling out two additional adults who were unconscious. Emergency crews began CPR and transported four to the hospital. The other two adults were treated on scene.
A similar close call happened in Canby, with an unconscious woman being rescued from her home by Canby Fire District personnel.
The sheriff’s office reminds the public to never use alternate heating sources indoors that produce carbon monoxide — including barbecues, camp stoves or cooktops — inside homes, trailers and other enclosed spaces. Do not use generators inside your home.
Emergency officials also recommend the use of battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors inside the home and other enclosed spaces, including trailers.
At least one other county resident died during the worst winter storm to hit the area in at least 40 years, the county’s emergency management department reported, which was apparently the result of an oxygen issue related to the widespread power outages.
Residents being unable to charge their compressed oxygen tanks and breathing machines has been a major concern for emergency medical crews throughout the crisis. If you or a loved one is low on oxygen and without power, call 911.