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Carbon monoxide leads to a trip to the hospital in Marathon County

WAOW Television

The Riverside and Kronenwetter fire departments were called to Cedar Creek Cinema on Sunday after several people fell ill and passed out after leaving the theater.

Riverside Fire District Chief Rob Bowen said the department took the call at about 5:30 p.m. When they got there, they treated five people for suspected carbon monoxide, or CO, poisoning; four of those people then were taken to an area hospital.

Officials used CO detectors to measure levels of the gas in the air. In theater No. 1, they found levels of 683 parts per million, far above what’s considered a safe level of 50 ppm.

Bowen said at 50 ppm, a person would not expect any symptoms over eight hours of exposure.

Other parts of the theater also showed elevated levels, ranging from 45 to 90 ppm, with the lobby coming in at 72 ppm.

Officials traced the CO leak to a faulty HVAC system, and Bowen said WPS was called in to check for a natural gas leak, but none was found.

Firefighters evacuated the theater so it could be ventilated, and the theater will remain closed until the problem is fixed, the fire chief said.

While it’s not yet known what caused the HVAC system to leak, Bowen reminds people to make sure all vents for the furnace are clear of snow.

Other reminders include:

  • Make sure gas meters are clear of any snow.
  • Change the batteries in your CO and smoke detectors regularly.
  • Have your furnace serviced each year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

If you do have CO poisoning, treatment can include breathing pure oxygen or even spending time in a pressurized oxygen chamber, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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