Ill family members suffered poisoning from carbon monoxide

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2000

Malik Williams, from left, Paris Moore, Derrick Williams, Teresa Williams and ForMichael Moore stand near a gas furnace vent that gave the family carbon monoxide poisoning after a dog knocked loose a pipe under their home. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

Twenty eight-year-old Teresa Williams came close to dying from something she never even saw or smelled.

“For a week straight I had a really bad headache and I was throwing up,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

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Williams said her husband, Derrick, and their three children, Paris, ForMicheal and Malik, were all suffering from the headaches, too.

After a week of taking cold medicine and not feeling any better, Teresa Williams went to the emergency room Dec. 3.

“They said it sounded like carbon monoxide poisoning and I was not expecting that,” Teresa Williams said. “The nurse said if I had stayed in the house another few hours, I could have died.”

Leslie Decareaux, fire prevention officer coordinator for the Vicksburg Fire Department, went to the Williams’ house and used one of the department’s six testers to check for the deadly gas.

“They were very, very lucky,” she said. “There was an alarming level of carbon monoxide in that house.”

Decareaux said she suspected the leak had been going on for at least a week.

“This is some serious stuff,” she said.

Derrick Williams, 33, said his family has lived at the house at 2503 Roosevelt Ave. for only two months.

“This really taught me something because I kept thinking surely I would smell something if there was a problem,” he said.

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, toxic gas, is a by-product of burning fossil fuels such as oil, diesel and natural, propane and butane gas.

“Anything that produces an open flame can produce carbon monoxide, so you have to be careful,” Fire Chief Kevin Westbrook said. “Anyone that feels they may be at risk can call us day or night.”

Carbon monoxide testers in battery or electric form are available in most retail stores.

Teresa Williams said the leak in her house was caused by a loose furnace pipe under the house.

“I know it is fixed now, but I still get nervous,” she said. “I won’t even light the heater if my husband isn’t here.”

Westbrook said he ordered the $1,000 testers when he ordered two new fire trucks for Memorial Station No. 2.

“If we have to go into a storage drain or any confined space, this is going to help us a great deal,” he said.

Teresa Williams said her family will be stocking up on some store-bought testers, much less expensive and looking like fire alarms, for their house.

“I feel like someone was really watching over me,” she said.