4-year-old among 3 victims of carbon monoxide poisoning in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Shelby County, according to Shelby County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Earle Farrell.

All of the victims are men: two adults and a 4-year-old.

MLGW crews found the bodies when they came to the home to restore power. The home apparently lost power sometime Thursday.

Investigators said one of the victims was found near the generator inside a closed-in garage. The generator was being used to power the home during the power outage. The two other victims were found in different parts of the Belfast Drive home.

"It appears a generator may have been involved. It appears it was running to get the house power, and the victims were overcome by the carbon monoxide," Brent Perkins of Shelby County Fire Department said.

MLGW said it is not yet sure why the home lost power Thursday.

"I am sad. It's sad. I heard that they had a gas powered generator for heat and it's just sad that they went to bed one night and never woke up the next morning," neighbor Michael Kelly said.

It's unclear to investigators right now when they passed or how long the generator may have been running. The bodies were found in separate rooms of the home, according to SCSO.

"One person was found on the floor like he was attempting to get to the generator, maybe to turn it off.  Right now, it's all part of the investigation," Farrell said.

Tennessee Department of Health released a video on Twitter with a few tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide filling your home.

Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headache, fatigue, weakness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting--flu-like symptoms.

Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled, heard, or detected.

"The carbon monoxide gas is heavier than oxygen, breathable oxygen, and tends to sink towards the floor. Which is why most carbon monoxide detectors are typically mounted a foot or two from the floor," Perkins said.

Some ways you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do 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. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.

The CDC said more than 400 people die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.

"We Just urge everyone do not put a generator in your house no matter how cold it gets. Find another source of heat," Farrell said.

Investigators said this was a tragedy that could have been prevented with early warning of danger coming from a carbon monoxide detector.

If you breathe in carbon monoxide, doctors say get into fresh air immediately and call 911 if you develop signs or symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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