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Carbon monoxide poisoning caused Helena man's death - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Carbon monoxide poisoning caused Helena man's death

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Emergency crews, including the county coroner, were called to a home on the 6100 block of North Montana at around 2 p.m. on Friday. Emergency crews, including the county coroner, were called to a home on the 6100 block of North Montana at around 2 p.m. on Friday.
HELENA -

Preliminary tests show that Christopher Drake, found dead in his garage last Friday, died of acute carbon monoxide intoxication.

Drake was 35 years old.

He was found dead at his home on the 6100 block of North Montana Avenue at around 2 p.m.

Lewis & Clark County Coroner Bryan Backeberg suspects the death was accidental.

The full toxicology report is pending.

Results are expected in the next few weeks.

This marks the second death caused by carbon monoxide in recent months in the Helena area.

In December, six people were taken to St. Peter's Hospital for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning; one person succumbed.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned and not properly vented.

That includes car and truck engines, stoves, fireplaces, gas furnaces, and gas hot water heaters.

“They can produce excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. and you want to make sure that these appliances are vented properly in the wintertime where we get a lot of snow and what not, the vents on the roof can get plugged up, and that will draft back into the house and it will not let the carbon monoxide and poisonous gases vent,” said Helena Fire Department Battalion Chief Fred Pippin.

Pippin said there are symptoms to watch out for.

“There are many symptoms with carbon monoxide. one being, several being headaches, nausea, dizziness, fainting, it can be fatal obviously as we experienced,” said Pippin.

If you suspect one of your gas appliances isn’t working right, have them checked out immediately.


Information from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control & Prevention:

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

How can I prevent CO poisoning in my home?

  • 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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