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Nassau County family lucky to be alive after carbon monoxide incident

Carbon monoxide incident in Nassau County home
Carbon monoxide incident in Nassau County home 02:12

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Nearly a dozen members of an extended Long Island family are lucky to be alive after high levels of carbon monoxide filled their home on Monday night.

The family's doctor is being credited with saving their lives.

A 3-week-old boy was among those rushed to the hospital from the house on Buchanan Road in East Meadow filled with carbon monoxide levels considered immediately dangerous to life and health. At least 11 people were inside. One of them called the pediatrician.

"She was calling to say the whole family had gotteng sick all at once with headaches, dizziness, and were having trouble walking. They were concerned they were coming down with an illness," Dr. John Zaso said.

Zaso, who is also with the East Meadow Fire Department, said he knew it had to be carbon monoxide.

"I immediately told them all open windows, get out of the house, and call 911," Zaso said.

But not hearing the call on his department radio, Zaso said he phoned the family back to insist they get out of the house. He alerted first responders, who found levels off the charts -- 1,450 parts per million. Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said a level of 30 will set off a carbon monoxide detector, but added, "They did not hear any devices sounding, so we are pretty sure there weren't any operating devices in the house."

Five adults and five children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. One remains hospitalized. The family declined comment, but neighbors expressed relief.

"It's a good lesson, what would you tell somebody to be aware of," Audrey Pavia said.

The fire marshal said lives could have been lost if the lethal gas filled the home while everyone was sleeping.

"We just finished this week with changing the clocks, change of batteries, that is the big slogan. It is not just about smoke detectors; it's also about carbon monoxide alarms," Uttaro said.

And he says to place them where you can hear them -- near living space. He adds homeowners must service heating systems regularly. A heating malfunction is suspected in this case.

Fire officials credited the doctor with a great save.

"A very alert doctor, a quick responding fire department, and, hopefully, from what we understand, a happy ending," Uttaro said.

Zaso said when everyone became sick all at once, like what happened in this case, he knew it was likely a poisoning and not an illness, and in the heating season it was likely carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, which is why detectors are so critical to have and to change batteries regularly.

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