Sound the alarm: Protect yourself from CO poisoning

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The Richland County Coroner said the deaths of two men at a Columbia urban housing development were caused by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Known as the invisible killer, CO is an odorless, colorless gas that is created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely.

Here are some tips provided by the Columbia Fire Department on its website.

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.

Click here to request a smoke/CO alarm courtesy of the Columbia Fire Department.

Coroner Gary Watts said the bodies of Calvin Witherspoon, Jr, 61, and Derrick Caldwell Roper, 30, were found in their Allen Benedict Court apartments on January 17.

The victims were discovered after authorities performed a welfare check.

RELATED: Deaths of two men at Columbia apartment caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, Coroner says

Following the deaths, city officials held a press conference announcing the third oldest public housing development in the nation would be immediately evacuated.

Displaced resident have been moved several times since leaving the property on January 18.

City Council Moe Baddourah called for the resignation of the authority director in the wake of the ‘tragedy.’

RELATED: City councilman calls for resignations in wake of Allen-Benedict evacuation 

In a letter from Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins to Columbia Housing Authority Director Gilbert Walker, the apartments were in numerous code violations to include the presence of natural gas, carbon monoxide and missing smoke alarms.

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