When Jhudong Police Precinct in Hsinchu County’s Jhudong Township (竹東) received a “110” emergency call on Wednesday last week from a caller claiming that his family was going insane, they thought the man was playing a prank.
Despite their doubts, police rushed to the address and found the family suffering from a serious case of carbon monoxide poisoning, which had caused them to feel dizzy, nauseated and deranged.
All four people recovered after treatment at a local hospital.
Jhudong Precinct Police Chief Pu Ming-yi (蒲銘義) said he thought the caller was drunk, joking or calling in a false alarm when he said: “Our whole family is going insane, please come and save us.”
To be on the safe side, Pu took two officers and drove to the house, which belongs to a family surnamed Peng (彭).
The police found two brothers in their 20s, and their parents, in their 50s, in a dazed and confused state. They were unable to stand and had to lean against furniture to avoid falling down.
“The speech of all four was slurred and we could not make sense of what they were saying,” Pu said.
The police report said the younger Peng brother took a bath that evening and shortly afterward the whole family felt dizzy, which prompted the elder brother to call the hotline.
Pu checked the house and found all the doors and windows were shut because of cold weather. He also found the balcony, where the gas water heater was located, was not properly ventilated.
Doctors later confirmed that the family had inhaled excessive amounts of carbon monoxide.
“The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion and neurological dysfunction. If victims are not quickly removed from a problem area, it may result in loss of consciousness and death,” said Chou Chun-kuang (周春光), a neurologist at the county’s Ton-Yen General Hospital.