WASHINGTON — A Woodbridge, Virginia laundromat is still closed Saturday after five people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning Friday night.
One person was found unconscious when first responders arrived at the Super Suds on Jefferson Davis Highway around 6 p.m. Friday.
That person was flown by helicopter to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and is being treated in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
Four others were taken to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge. Three people have been released but the fourth has a more acute exposure.
Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for Prince William County’s Department of Fire and Rescue, says it’s believed that the carbon monoxide build-up was caused by a malfunctioning appliance. “There are several different gas-fired appliances in the building that could have been the culprit.”
Many homes have carbon monoxide alarms but Ferguson says it’s not clear if there was a carbon monoxide alarm in the building.
The odorless, invisible gas can be difficult to detect and its symptoms can mimic the flu — dizziness, runny nose, nausea and severe headaches.
Ferguson says a laundromat customer recognized others were showing the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and called 911.
Carbon monoxide is most commonly created by faulty fuel-burning appliances — like industrial-sized gas clothes dryers often used in laundromats. “Having those detectors so that you can early detect the carbon monoxide is absolutely essential in the home,” Ferguson says.
Montgomery County Fire spokesman Pete Piringer says the young, old, and those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. “Typically what happens is somebody goes to bed at night and they don’t wake up because they’ve been exposed to it.”