Carbon monoxide leak at day care center injures kids, staff

Oct 11, 2022, 7:17 AM | Updated: 1:46 pm

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A carbon monoxide leak at a Pennsylvania day care center sent more than two dozen children and several adults to hospitals early Tuesday, some of them unconscious, but none of the injuries were considered serious, authorities said.

Emergency responders went to the Happy Smiles Learning Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on reports of an unconscious child. The building was evacuated after air quality detectors worn by firefighters were triggered.

The leak was caused by a malfunctioning heating unit and a blocked venting system, investigators said. They noted the building did not have carbon monoxide detectors, which will be required for child care facilities under a new state law that has not fully taken effect yet.

The sites are in the midst of a 30-day compliance period to have the detectors installed, and Happy Smiles owner Jesenia Gautreaux said the work will be done at her business.

A staffer called Gautreaux at home to tell her a child had collapsed, she told The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown. She arrived at the center within minutes and saw the boy in an ambulance, she said. He looked ill, she said, but gave her a thumbs-up.

“He was a little dizzy and out of it,” she told the newspaper, adding that other children cried as they evacuated. “I believe they were scared and worried about their friends.”

Of the patients treated by hospitals in the Lehigh Valley Health Network, symptoms included headache, dizziness and nausea, “and several were unresponsive prior to arrival,” Dr. Andrew Miller, chief of pediatric emergency medicine, said in a statement.

Some patients who “required more aggressive treatment” were transferred to hospitals in Philadelphia, about 50 miles away, he said.

Eight staffers were at the child care center, which usually cares for about 40 kids each day and will be closed while repairs are made, Gautreaux said. She hopes to reopen soon.

The center’s last state inspection was conducted late last year, and state records show the only problem found was a door that remained locked when the fire alarm sounded. That was soon repaired, and no sanctions were issued.

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Carbon monoxide leak at day care center injures kids, staff