The winter storm claimed the lives of two people in Kansas City on Tuesday, February 26. Alice Oropeza, 69, and her brother, 58-year-old Nick Oropeza, were found dead in their Kansas City, Kansas, home near North 51st Street near Kimball Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
A cousin of the Oropeza's found the two and attempted to revive them while EMS was on the way, but were unable to do so. The Oropezas left behind 21 nieces and nephews.
Like many others in the area, the Oropezas were in the dark without electricity or heat because of the snow storm. The fan on their forced-air furnace did not function without electricity. They started a gas generator in the basement, which filled their home with deadly carbon monoxide. Instructions on all gas generators require that they be used outside only.
Fire officials found CO levels in the home to be 600 parts per million. According to home.att.net/~cobusters1/coprotocol.htm and carbonmonoxidehq.com Carbon Monoxide detectors alert occupants when levels go above 9 ppm. Anything above 35 ppm is cause for concern, and above 100 ppm is an emergency situation and corrective action must be taken or lives will be at risk. CO is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
The Midwest Chimney Safety Council urges everyone to get a CO detector for their home because it can save lives, and to have another source for emergency heating such as a wood-burning stove.