One Friday morning, carbon monoxide gas seriously affected at least 80 students and nine teachers of Prussing Elementary School. At the emergency meeting of Prussing Local School Council, some parents broke down in tears when they recounted their ordeal at learning that their children were hospitalized after breathing the poisonous fumes resulting from boiler malfunction. Some of the students have to be taken to the hospital in the evening when they exhibited symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to two mothers of pre-school pupils, their children became disoriented after breathing carbon monoxide gas and could not identify themselves and their mothers. Michelle Netterstrom described the fear of not knowing whether her children were still alive while waiting outside the school last Friday. She claimed that the school’s boiler should have been replaced yesterday.
Anna Alvarado, the CPS chief of schools for Far Northwest Side said that she will get to the bottom of what happened because the lives of children were put under danger. Additional staff was sent to monitor the boiler and 8 carbon monoxide detectors were installed throughout the school.
Local School Council president Michele Rodriguez Taylor said that the boiler has been in disrepair since January 2013 and complaints have been made to district officials on the boiler’s bad condition. However, the district’s spokesman countered that the boiler has passed the annual inspection last July 22.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, weakness, dizziness, vomiting and nausea, shortness of breathing, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness. Several students lost consciousness that is why school officials had to call 911. Firefighters found 200 parts per million carbon monoxide gas in the school’s air which is far higher than what is considered as the safe level.
Boiler breakdowns can cost thousands of dollars. Majority of boiler failures are due to lack of maintenance, corrosion, low water cutoff and operator errors. To ensure that boiler failure will not compromise the safety of people and the property, commercial boiler repairs must be handled immediately once a fault has been found. Through annual boiler servicing, all faults are uncovered and dangerous situations are prevented.