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Orem family warns of carbon monoxide poisoning after near death experience

OREM, Utah – If Marco Arana would have been running his cement cutter for 10 more minutes, doctors say he would have died. The Orem man was working on his mother-in-law’s basement Tuesday evening when he suddenly felt ill.

“I was blacking out, I slowly sat down and then I just remember laying, like my body’s weight just made me fall back,” Arana said.

It was carbon monoxide poisoning. Arana had been using a gas-powered cement cutter for about an hour in the home’s basement. He wore a respiratory mask and had what he thought was proper ventilation.

“We had the window open and a fan running, but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “It was literally supposed to be a quick job, but it turned out to be a lot worse than I expected.”

His mother-in-law, Shiree Best, was nearby when she noticed Arana laying on his back.

“I just thought, ‘Oh, he is probably just laying on his back because his back hurts,’ but when I walked over to him he wasn’t conscious,” Best said.

She yelled for help, family called 911 and that is when she too started feeling the effects.

“I went from feeling fine to passing out in less than a minute,” she said. “Less than a minute. It was so quick.”

The two were taken to the hospital with dangerous blood carboxyhemoglobin levels. Arana was at 55 percent COHb in the blood, while Best suffered from 29 percent. They were both placed in hyperbaric chambers for three different treatments.

A carbon monoxide detector picked up CO levels at 172 parts per million in the home’s basement. Anything above 70 ppm a person would feel flu-like symptoms. Levels 150 to 220 ppm are toxic and deadly.

“I still can’t believe it. It’s a little emotional still for me to go down there, because what I see is Marco laying on the ground, and it’s hard,” Best said.

The two are expected to make a full recovery and hope others learn from their experience.

“Make sure you are educated on the equipment and have adequate ventilation,” Arana said. “I wasn’t aware of how harmful CO could be and how quickly it can get you.”

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