Over two dozen children and adults were rushed to multiple hospitals on Tuesday after an alleged carbon monoxide leak at a Pennsylvania day care center.
Allentown firefighters initially responded to a report of an unconscious child at Happy Smiles Learning Center on the 400 block of Wabash Street when their carbon monoxide monitors went off inside the facility, according to WFMZ-TV. The first call was reported at 6:51 a.m. local time.
A total of 32 children and adults were transported to four area hospitals across the Lehigh Valley. All individuals were noted as in stable condition, the outlet reported. A spokesperson for the Lehigh Valley Health Network confirmed that 28 children and four adults had been taken to area hospitals in the incident.
The fire department declared the situation a level 1 mass casualty situation, meaning that emergency responders could be overwhelmed by a large number of patients.
Capt. John Christopher, a spokesman for the Allentown Fire Department, confirmed to the New York Times all children and adults impacted were in stable condition and only one child was unconscious. Other individuals reportedly had various levels of carbon monoxide exposure, which can cause dizziness, headaches, and vomiting.
Parents of the children have reportedly been notified, and another area day care has offered to serve as a temporary facility as the leak is investigated.
Officials have noted that no carbon monoxide detector was found in the building. Recent legislation now requires the detectors but the new rule has not yet gone into effect. The day care’s director reportedly stated that the facility already had plans in place to comply with the new law.
The City of Allentown’s Facebook page thanked the first responders and noted that this is the time of year when incidents involving carbon monoxide leaks are more common.
“Thank you to our neighboring municipalities who also responded quickly and arrived on scene to offer mutual aid. All patients are currently stable and there’s no ongoing danger to the neighborhood or the community,” the city noted.
“Every winter the Allentown Fire Department responds to an increase in number of carbon monoxide calls. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce CO and can become a silent killer. CO is an invisible, odorless, poison gas that kills hundreds every year and makes thousands more sick. Those who have oil and gas furnaces should have their furnaces inspected every year. CO detectors should be checked regularly to make sure they are functioning properly,” it added.
Allentown is located about 100 miles west of New York City. The city is the third-largest in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.