EllieAna Hale

In the occurrence of a second tragic incident regarding carbon monoxide fatalities within the span of two months, the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) is increasing its outreach efforts to strive to prevent further tragedies. 

“One time is a tragedy, two times is a trend,” Battalion Chief and Public Information Officer, Michael Hopkins said. 

The KCFD is taking proactive measures to ensure that residents have access to vital safety information, regardless of language barriers. This is seen as vital as all six fatalities from the previous incidents were from the Hispanic community. 

The department is in the process of designing bilingual graphics and collaborating with Spanish media outlets to directly engage with Spanish-speaking communities.

“We just like to stress to the citizens that you should never operate any sort of gas-powered combustion engine indoors, regardless of its size,” Hopkin said. “Whether that’s a generator, or a power washer.”

In collaboration with the Health Department, the KCFD is additionally promoting the Healthy Homes Rental Inspection Program, offering a limited supply of carbon monoxide detectors for Kansas City residents.

Common sources of carbon monoxide leaks include the following: 

  • Furnaces
  • Stoves
  • Fireplaces
  • Clothes dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Space heaters
  • Idling cars in garages

Residents can reserve a CO detector by emailing Healthy.homes@kcmo.org or calling 816-513-6464. 

Confirmation of a reservation is necessary before picking up the detector at the Health Department, located at 2400 Troost Ave. Suite 3600.

The campaign also emphasizes recognizing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can mimic flu-like symptoms. Fatigue, confusion, headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and vomiting are signs that should not be ignored. 

“If all of a sudden two or three people in the home all have a headache at the same time,” Hopkins said. “Or you know one’s got a headache, one feels nauseous and one feels a little dizzy. All at the same time. There’s a good chance there’s some sort of carbon monoxide leak.”

In the event that a CO alarm goes off, residents are advised to immediately evacuate the building to fresh air and safety and to shut the door and immediately call 9-1-1. Residents should not re-enter the building until it has been cleared by first responders.

Even if the alarm stops, and all appliances are turned off with windows and doors opened, there could still be a lingering threat. The fire department emphasizes that residents should not ignore the alarm and evaluate whether or not they are in danger.

Alarm activation can occur due to reasons other than an emergency, such as low battery or the detector reaching its end-of-life. Residents are reminded to change the battery regularly and replace the detector when necessary.

The KCFD outreach campaign seeks to educate residents with the knowledge and tools needed to protect themselves and their communities from the silent threat of carbon monoxide. Through this, there is determination to break the tragic trend and ensure the safety of every Kansas City resident.