KU Health System Doctors Warn of Hidden Danger in the Basement

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Bob Hallinan

Executive Producer

Office: (913) 588-7284

Cell: (913)-481-7329



             It started as an overnight stay with her sister. But when Cindy Burns woke up in the morning, she had a bad headache, felt nauseous and knew something was wrong. What she and the others in the house didn’t know was that deadly carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, was leaking from the furnace in the basement. Firefighters came and took a reading, which was off the charts, and ordered everyone out. Cindy was rushed to The University of Kansas Hospital, where she underwent treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. That’s a device that delivers 100 percent oxygen at two to three times normal atmospheric pressure to help rid the body of the poisonous carbon monoxide. Thankfully, she made a full recovery.

            “Unfortunately, this is all too common in the cold winter months like February,” said Dr. Mark Scott, director of hyperbaric medicine at The University of Kansas Health System. “People have the furnace on 24/7, and don’t realize there’s a problem till it’s too late.” Every year, several hundred people die in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning. So far this season, the hospital has treated seven patients for the condition.

            In the video, Dr. Scott says this is preventable with a $20-30 dollar detector from the hardware store. He says most people have a smoke detector but don’t realize how important a carbon monoxide detector is. He also explains how hyperbaric medicine works, and describes the symptoms of this poisoning.

Also on the video, Cindy Burns describes her experience, and how she didn’t even remember going to the hospital. She also talks about how easy it was to undergo the hyperbaric oxygen treatment and how it saved her life.

Fred Wilson, Cindy’s brother-in-law, explains what happened, how he also felt ill and called the fire department. He says he’s had the furnace repaired, after finding a wasp’s nest that had clogged the vent. He says he now has carbon monoxide detectors hanging all over the house.

Also included is video of the house, inside and out, showing the new vents and the furnace in the basement that clogged, causing the problem. Video also shows the new carbon monoxide detectors in his home.