WHITEFIELD, Maine — Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected after an elderly Whitefield couple was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries Christmas morning.
A neighbor checking on the couple at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday found the 84-year-old woman and 83-year-old man unconscious in their home on Heath Road, according to Lt. Rand Maker of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
“We suspect this to be a carbon monoxide poisoning case related to a generator running in a garage attached below a living area of the residence,” Maker said.
The man was taken by LifeFlight of Maine to an undetermined hospital, and the woman was taken by Delta ambulance to MaineGeneral Hospital in Augusta.
Maker was unsure of the couple’s conditions. Their names were not released.
The incident comes a day after Timothy Woods, 50, of Knox was found dead in his garage about 15 minutes after he entered the closed area to put gas in his generator, which had been in operation since the early morning hours. Family members found his body, according to Maine State Police.
Woods’ death is the first suspected carbon monoxide death in Maine during the ice storm, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The National Weather Service and Maine Emergency Management Agency both warned that generators are one of the main hazards during outages. Portable generators should be operated outside at least 15 feet from doors and windows. Residents are warned not to use camp stoves or grills indoors and to keep a carbon monoxide detector, with batteries, in rooms where people sleep.
Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. If you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside and call 911 immediately.
“The important point … is to have people check on people during this time,” Maker said, adding that Lincoln County — particularly Somerville, Jefferson, Whitefield and Dresden — were especially hard hit by the recent ice and cold.
“There are a number of people in our county who don’t have power or heat,” he said. “Some are relying on unconventional ways to keep their houses warm and to power their houses. I think it’s important that we all check on each other during this time.”
Maker said area fire departments are responding to calls to check on people and about “significant amounts of damage” with trees and wires down.
BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this story.