Carbon Monoxide Leak at Day Care Center Injures Kids, Staff

October 11, 2022by The Associated Press
Carbon Monoxide Leak at Day Care Center Injures Kids, Staff
Emergency responders work on the scene of an apparent carbon monoxide leak at a day care center in Allentown, Pa., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. (Zach DeWever/WFMZ-TV via AP)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A carbon monoxide leak at a Pennsylvania day care center sent nearly 30 children and four adults to the hospital early Tuesday, but none of the injuries were considered serious, authorities said.

Emergency responders went to the Happy Smiles Learning Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on reports of an unconscious child. The building was evacuated after air quality detectors worn by firefighters were triggered.

The leak was caused by a malfunctioning heating unit and a blocked venting system, investigators said. They noted the building did not have carbon monoxide detectors, which will be required for child care facilities under a new state law that has not fully taken effect yet.

The sites are in the midst of a 30-day compliance period to have the detectors installed, and Happy Smiles owner Jesenia Gautreaux said the work will be done at her business.

A staffer called Gautreaux at home to tell her a child had collapsed, she told The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown. She arrived at the center within minutes and saw the boy in an ambulance, she said. He looked ill, she said, but gave her a thumbs-up.

“He was a little dizzy and out of it,” she told the newspaper, adding that other children cried as they evacuated. “I believe they were scared and worried about their friends.”

The children and adults were evaluated at hospitals, and all were listed as stable, authorities said. Eight staffers were in the building when the leak occurred, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many children there.

The center, which usually cares for about 40 kids each day, will be closed while repairs are made, Gautreaux said. She hopes to reopen soon.

The center’s last state inspection was conducted late last year, and state records show the only problem found was a door that remained locked when the fire alarm sounded. That was soon repaired, and no sanctions were issued.

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