A Glenville couple was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday that authorities say occurred in part because they set up an emergency generator in their garage after power had been knocked out by the ice storm that swept through the Capital Region.
Ralph and Mary Fazio, ages 65 and 61, of 38 Country Fair Lane, were found dead in their home when two daughters and a son-in-law checked on the couple, who had been watching a dog belonging to one of the daughters.
“They stated they had come to see how their parents had made out,” said Bill Antrim, Thomas Corners Fire Department assistant fire chief. The children were visibly distraught by the parents’ death, he added.
Ralph Fazio’s body was found in a chair on the first floor and Mary Fazio’s body upstairs lying on the floor beside a bed when authorities arrived at 8 a.m., Antrim said.
He said they had been dead for several hours.
Antrim said carbon monoxide levels in the home were as high as 400 parts per million, according to fire company meter readings.
“We think we fried one of [the meters], the parts per million were so high,” Antrim said.
He wasn’t sure whether the couple had a carbon monoxide alarm in the home. But Antrim said no alarm was sounding when firefighters arrived. Most home carbon monoxide detectors will sound if a level of 75 parts per million or more is sustained for at least 45 minutes, Antrim said.
Antrim said the emergency generator was set up in an attached garage and all doors to the garage were closed. He believes the couple may have propped open a door leading outside from the garage initially but it blew shut during the night. That created a draft between the garage and house that sucked in the generator fumes contained in the garage, Antrim theorized.
A pet beagle in the house was barely conscious when authorities arrived and was taken to a veterinarian. The animal is expected to live, Antrim said.
In Alplaus, a family of five that left an unattended fire in an attempt to keep their home’s pipes from freezing saw their Brookside Drive home go up in flames Saturday evening. Authorities said a fire had been lit in the home’s fireplace but family members had left the house. No injuries were reported.
In Troy, 13 people were taken to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning after residents of one apartment in an apartment building used a charcoal grill for heat, city police said.
Those people were expected to be OK, police said.
Odorless and colorless, deadly carbon monoxide can catch people unaware if they don’t have an alarm, Antrim said.
While knowing the symptoms — headache, fatigue and nausea — is helpful, some people are overcome so quickly by the gas that they go to sleep instead of calling for help or leaving the house.
“I know it sounds crazy,” Antrim said, relating how one of his firefighters was sickened by carbon monoxide in his home. “He just couldn’t think straight to go to the hospital or dial 911.”
Carbon monoxide poisoning also is a danger if people crank up their gas stoves to heat the house or fail to open a window for ventilation while using a kerosene heater.
Authorities recommend not using gas stoves for heat and never putting emergency generators inside homes, attached garages or basements.
“We’re still pushing the safety message,” said William Peat, spokesman for the State Emergency Management Office.