10-year-old boy killed by carbon monoxide leaked from fridge

His family was found passed out in their Alaskan holiday home. What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that you should know of?

Sometimes, the most unexpected killers lurk in our own homes. 

The Kleb family had been staying in their holiday home in Alaska, when 10-year-old Gavin started vomiting while his sister - 8-year-old Caroline - complained of a headache.

Thinking it was just the flu, mum Sarah gave Gavin some medicine and asked him to rest.

Soon after, a family friend texted Sarah, but after getting no reply, made her way to the cabin. She found the whole family unconscious. 

Sarah had passed out in bed with her little girl Caroline and Gavin was found on the sofa in the main room of the cabin. 

The family were rushed to hospital. Sarah and Caroline were flown to Seattle for hyperbaric chamber oxygen. While they revived, young Gavin sadly never woke up. 

The family had all been diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. Older brother Connor and dad Matt were not staying at the property at the time.

But what caused it?

It was the fridge. The propane-powered device had been leaking the noxious gas gradually, slowly poisoning the family.

Heartbroken mum Sarah told Alaska Dispatch News that at no time did she ever imagine their symptoms were indicative of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning

According to Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning could include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

As in the case of the Kleb family, some of the symptoms are very similar to those of flu, making it very hard to diagnose in time. 

How do I know carbon monoxide is leaking in my home? 

It's not just from a faulty fridge that this gas may be emitted - a malfunctioning stove can also be the source. 

While it's very hard to detect the presence of this toxic gas in your home, there are few clues that may indicate it is present.

  • A stale and stuffy smell in a clean home.
  • Excessive moisture on windows and walls, especially if close to an appliance such as a fridge.
  • Inconsistencies in pilot light on gas stove, e.g. it consistently goes out. 
  • The flames and pilot light on your gas stove turn yellow (when they are usually blue). 
  • The smell of gas in your home. 

Parents, ensure there is always good ventilation in your home, especially in the kitchen area. And have your appliances tested for irregularities, especially if they are old. 

Stay safe!

References: Metro, Mayo Clinic, Do it yourself