Two men whose bodies were found inside a Garland apartment Friday morning may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, police say.
Just before 10 a.m., Garland police and fire were asked to perform a welfare check at an apartment on the 200 block of South Barnes Drive after someone called to report two men who were unresponsive inside the residence.
Inside the apartment, officers found a gas-powered generator near one of the bodies. Officials said the key to the generator was, "in the on position with extension cords connected, but it appeared to be out of gas."
Witnesses told police they heard the generator running on Wednesday.
"This week has been very devastating," Garland police Ofc. Felicia Jones said. "Thousands have been without electricity, we've been without water, and so I can imagine families are going to go to those extreme measures to power their residences so they can have water, so they can have heat for their families."
First responders in North Texas have had hundreds of calls for carbon monoxide-related issues. Between Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, the Fort Worth Fire Department responded to 223 calls, and Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to 103 calls. Garland has had carbon monoxide calls too, but this was the first one to end in death in that city.
Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. The symptoms are flu-like. They include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
The best way to tell if there is carbon monoxide present, is to have a working carbon monoxide detector.
Winter Weather Recovery
After several days of sub-freezing temperatures, some melting is expected Friday and Saturday.
The men were identified as 28-year-old Jose Anguiano Torres and 41-year-old Arnulfo Escalante Lopez, both residents of Garland.
The suspected cause of death is poisoning from carbon monoxide which can be lethal to humans and pets. The investigation is ongoing and the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office will determine the official causes of death.
Unfortunately, deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning tend to increase during times of severely cold weather, such as what was present across Texas this week.
Earlier this week, a 23-year-old Honduran immigrant died in Fort Worth after his electricity went out and he used a generator inside his home to try to keep his wife and young son warm, his family said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue said they had responded to 108 calls related to either carbon monoxide detectors or carbon monoxide emergencies and that one of them, on Feb. 14, was a fatality. Only one person from those calls was hospitalized, DFR said.
Experts warn generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper – or even outside near an open window, due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked at least twice annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.
Important CO Poisoning Prevention Tips: CDC
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
- When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, call 911 or your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or consult a health care professional right away.