Carbon monoxide blamed in preventable deaths of 3 adults, 1 baby in Metro Detroit

On Nov. 18, police discovered a Rochester Hills couple dead after a suspected carbon monoxide leak inside their home. Then, yesterday a 20-year-old man and his 1-year-old baby were discovered inside a running vehicle. 

The garage door was closed, police said, leading them to believe they also died of carbon monoxide. 

Deaths linked to the poisonous gas are "preventable" Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, which makes them all the more tragic. In the Rochester Hills case, the couple owned a carbon monoxide detector - but never put batteries in it.

RELATED: 20-year-old man, baby dead from suspected CO poisoning

"We always encourage people to check their smoke detectors and their carbon monoxide detectors each time we change the clocks for daylight savings. It’s a good idea to have more than one in your home, and you can get them that run on batteries or plug-in with battery backup."

What is Carbon Monoxide, and where does it come from?

Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is a gas that forms whenever fossil fuels are burned. Sometimes dubbed a "silent killer" the fumes are odorless and tasteless.

Officials often alert their communities about the dangers of CO when things cool down because that's when appliances like furnaces and space heaters turn back on. Fire places, water heaters, and generators are other common sources. 

While it can be nearly impossible to detect CO, there are symptoms that arise when its present. Health issues like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea tend to manifest themselves. Michigan's chief medical executive said the best thing someone exposed to CO can do is get into an area with fresh air.

In the case of one couple from Westland, they began to feel the effects of CO poisoning after a generator they had purchased turned on. Because it was too close to the home, when the power went out and the generator turned on, it vented gases into the home.

MORE: Couple killed by suspected carbon monoxide poisoning identified by Oakland County sheriff

Once they were out of their home, they felt immediately better, the fire chief said.

Two tragedies in one week

The couple in Rochester that died from CO poisoning were 75 and 74 years old. Their daughter had asked neighbors to check on their parents around 3 p.m. last Friday, where they were found unconscious in their bed at their home.

One neighbor began administering CPR before she began to feel lightheaded. A dispatcher advised them to pen as many windows as she could to help vent the home. 

According to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, the CO levels inside the home were 185 parts per million, more than twice the limit before exposure becomes lethal.

The second incident in Detroit happened at a residence on Mercier and Martin streets in Southwest Detroit. Police said the girlfriend of the 20-year-old man had found the two and reported it around 3 p.m.

Both father and son were transported to hospitals, including the 1-year-old by police, but died. A gofundme was posted for the family that can be found here.

Getting a Carbon Monoxide detector

CO detectors come as cheap as $8 a unit and Detroiters can pick them up for free at their public safety headquarters. A number of fire departments throughout Southeast Michigan also offer them to residents free of charge.

The Michigan Health Department recommends CO detectors be placed on every level of someone's home - including the basement. 

RELATED: A silent killer -- What to know about carbon monoxide poisoning

Batteries should also be changed every six months and detectors should be replaced every five years.