Resolution honors brothers from Kimball, Minnesota and three adults and a child from Blanchard, North Dakota, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have introduced a Senate resolution designating the week of November 5 through 12, 2017 as National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Week. The resolution honors the Burt family from Kimball, Minnesota and three adults and a child from Blanchard, North Dakota, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“As the cold winter months approach, raising awareness is the first critical step in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Klobuchar. “National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Week will help provide families with the information they need to know and encourage the installation of detectors to safeguard against this dangerous ‘silent killer.’”

“National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Week will help to bring greater attention to the dangers of carbon monoxide to prevent tragedies in the future,” said Hoeven. “We hope this resolution raises public awareness and reminds individuals and families to install or check their carbon monoxide detectors, which will help save lives.” 

Klobuchar has been a leader on carbon monoxide awareness and prevention. She introduced the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, named after two young brothers from Kimball, Minnesota, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 1996. The legislation would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide support for public safety education and the installation of safe and reliable carbon monoxide detectors.

The full text of the resolution is available below:

Whereas carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced whenever any fuel, such as natural gas, pro- pane, gasoline, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal, is burned;

Whereas devices that produce carbon monoxide include cars, boats, portable power generators, gasoline engines, stoves, and heating systems, and carbon monoxide produced from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces;

Whereas carbon monoxide is often referred to as the ‘‘silent killer’’ because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non- irritating, and ignoring early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning may cause unconsciousness and continual expo- sure to danger;

Whereas according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States, carbon mon- oxide poisoning kills more than 150 individuals and sends approximately 20,000 individuals to emergency rooms;

Whereas when people breathe in carbon monoxide, the poisonous gas enters the bloodstream and prevents adequate intake of oxygen, which can damage tissues and result in death;

Whereas, given their common preexisting medical conditions, individuals older than age 65 are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning;

Whereas for most individuals who suffer from carbon mon- oxide poisoning, the early signs of exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide include mild headaches and breathlessness upon moderate exercise;

Whereas sustained or increased exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to flu-like symptoms, including severe head- aches, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, confusion, irritability, and impaired judgment, memory, and coordination;

Whereas breathing in low concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause long-term health damage, even after exposure to the gas ends;

Whereas most cases of carbon monoxide exposure occur during the colder months of December, January, and February, when oil and gas heaters are more heavily in use;

Whereas on January 5, 1996, the Burt family of Kimball, Minnesota, was poisoned by carbon monoxide from a mal- functioning furnace in the home of the Burt family, resulting in—

(1)   the deaths of 15-month-old Zachary Todd Burt and 4-year-old Nicholas Todd Burt; and

(2)   the hospitalization of Ryan Todd Burt;

Whereas Cheryl Burt, the mother of Zachary, Nicholas, and Ryan Burt, has worked to educate the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, including by testifying in December 2009 before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate;

Whereas according to the North Dakota Department of Health, among residents over the age of 65, carbon monoxide poisoning was the leading substance-related cause of death in North Dakota from 2009 to 2014;

Whereas the North Dakota Department of Health found that, in 2010, carbon monoxide poisoning was the second-leading cause of unintentional poisoning death among adults ages 30 through 49;

Whereas on June 7, 2015, 3 adults and 1 child in Blanchard, North Dakota, tragically passed away from carbon mon- oxide poisoning as the result of a carbon monoxide leak caused by an improperly vented water heater; and

Whereas increasing awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide can help prevent poisoning and save lives: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate designates the week of November 5 through 12, 2017, as ‘‘National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Week’’.