Thirty-year-old Laketra Jones and her two children, two-year-old Jakobe and nine-year-old Jada, all died after being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning in their Hattiesburg home. Investigators say the poisoning was the result of Jones moving a gasoline-powered electric generator inside her house after the power went out.
In the wake of this tragedy, emergency responders are reminding the public about the importance of operating gasoline powered items in open, outdoor areas.
"Like your car," says Fire Prevention Specialist Jimmy Hoffer with the Meridian Fire Department, "you never want to start your car in an enclosed garage because you're exposing yourself to carbon monoxide or anyone that's inside the home. It's the same way if I started a lawn mower in an enclosed basement or garage."
Although gas powered appliances such as stoves and heaters can be used inside, Hoffer says they need to be used with extra caution.
"Anything with a solid fuel burning appliance can produce carbon monoxide," says Hoffer.
Hoffer says installing carbon monoxide alarms is just as important as installing smoke detectors. While smoke detectors are often positioned up high because smoke rises, Hoffer says carbon monoxide alarms should be placed about five feet off the ground where carbon monoxide often lingers. However, even then Hoffer is advising residents to always read instructions for proper installation.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea or headaches. However, as with the most recent tragedy, Hoffer says it appears that the deadly affects don't necessarily have to take long and often can affect children first.
In fact, in 1998, Petty Officer First Class Michael Johnston, his four-year-old twin sons Robert and Jesse and his two stepsons, Jimmy and William, all died after being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning while asleep in their home at Naval Air Station Meridian.
With both tragedies in mind, Hoffer is offering residents this final advice.
"It's just something that you've got to be careful for, that you've got to watch out for."