Family says carbon monoxide leaked from heater - WSMV Channel 4

Family says carbon monoxide leaked from heater, nearly killing baby

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

With another chilly night ahead, many people will be cranking up the heat in their homes. But there can be a very dangerous risk they may not think about.

A Bellevue family nearly lost their little girl because of a problem with their heat. They had no idea it was leaking carbon monoxide, and the detector they had wasn't sensitive enough.

Kristen and Scott Carpenter say they were enjoying a night of TV while their 1-year-old daughter, Virginia, was tucked fast asleep upstairs.

"It was the night of the championship game, and about two minutes to the end of the game, that's when the monitor started beeping. And we ran upstairs," Scott Carpenter said.

The sound was coming from a carbon monoxide detector near Virginia's bed. Once inside the bedroom, her parents found their baby unresponsive.

They immediately took Virginia outside for fresh air, and as first responders showed up to the house, the baby opened her eyes.

Still, they weren't out of the woods.

"We thought that once she had come around everything was fine, and they said, 'No, you have to go to the hospital,'" said mother Kristen Carpenter.

Dr. Donna Segar treated Virginia at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

"One of the things that can happen with severe poisoning is delayed neurologic sequelae, which means you can have real bad memory loss, decrease in IQ and bad neurological problems," Segar said.

What the Carpenters didn't know was that carbon monoxide had been leaking into the house for six hours by the time they found Virginia.

It was due to a leak in the basement heating system.

The carbon monoxide levels in Virginia's room were relatively low, which is why the detectors had not gone off.

But for a child her size, it was still too much.

Virginia was put on oxygen, and after 36 hours was released from the hospital.

Before, the family only had one detector in Virginia's room, now they have four on both levels of the house, including a low-level detector in Virginia's room.

The Carpenters say they could have avoided their near-tragedy by having their heating and air conditioning units checked out.

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