ST. GEORGE — Authorities are investigating the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning after a family of four was found dead on New Year’s Day in a northern Arizona cabin.
Officials were responding to a welfare check Monday at the cabin located in Parks – a town located between Williams and Flagstaff – when they made the discovery, according to a statement issued by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities have identified the victims as 32-year-old Anthony Capitano, 32-year-old Meghan Capitano, 4-year-old Lincoln Capitano and 3-year-old Kingsley Capitano, of El Mirage, Arizona.
The Sheriff’s Office had received a call at approximately 12:26 p.m. Monday from a friend of the Capitano family.
“The caller said family members had been trying to contact them for a few days with no success and had become concerned,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the statement.
A Coconino County Sheriff’s deputy from the Williams Substation arrived at the cabin at approximately 1:17 p.m. and located the family’s vehicle in the driveway, officials said.
Upon approaching the cabin, the deputy reported smelling a “strong odor of gas” coming from the cabin and requested additional units, including the Ponderosa Fire Department, to respond to the scene.
At 1:43 p.m., fire personnel arrived on scene, entered the cabin with protective breathing equipment and located the deceased family.
“At this time, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident as possible carbon monoxide poisoning,” officials said Monday, noting that the Medical Examiner’s Office would be conducting further investigation.
The “silent killer”
Carbon monoxide is a year-round threat that, nationally, claims hundreds of lives each year.
Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced by motor vehicles and gas-powered tools and appliances like gas stove ranges, grills, lanterns and heating systems, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also produced by burning charcoal and wood.
It is often called the “silent killer” because it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and nonirritating gas that can kill you quickly. Carbon monoxide can cause people who inhale it to lose consciousness and then die within a few minutes.
Carbon monoxide is picked up by the blood’s red cells faster than oxygen, according to the CDC.
“This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death,” the CDC states on its website. “CO can also combine with proteins in tissues, destroying the tissues and causing injury and death.”
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
Ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout.
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it as the odor can mean it could be leaking CO.
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum or something else.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black or white – gives off CO.
- Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location and then call 911.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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