Students Evacuated Again from Barrows for High Carbon Monoxide

For the second time in three days, carbon monoxide readings were higher than safe.

Students were evacuated on Thursday from Barrows.
Students were evacuated on Thursday from Barrows.
For the second time this week, Barrows Elementary School students and staff have been evacuated due to high levels of carbon monoxide.

Just before 12 p.m. on Thursday, the Reading Police Department tweeted that the school was being evacuated due to high readings.

"Students were just evacuated from Barrows Elementary School again due to high carbon monoxide readings," police tweeted. "The students are being escorted to Austin Prep to wait for their parents."

On Tuesday, students were ordered to do the same and school was cancelled for the rest of the day. However, school returned to session on Wednesday as normal.

Police reminded parents on Thursday that they must bring a photo identification to pick up their child. Anyone having a family member or friend pick up a child must be able to speak to an administrator via telephone before their child is released.

Check back with Reading Patch for more information on this developing story.
Jeff Waldman January 16, 2014 at 01:56 PM
When these CO alarms went off- they notified people too late that there was a problem. These alarms cannot by law sound off at lower levels. Unfortunately everyone in that building was unnecessarily poisoned by carbon monoxide. People need to realize that these alarms warn you AFTER you've been poisoned. Read the back of the labels on every alarm you buy at the home stores- it tells you that it only protects PERFECTLY HEALTH ADULTS. It says right on there if you are a child, senior citizen, person with heart or respiratory issue (asthma is included!!) then this alarm does NOT protect you. I hope the superintendent will sit down with me to discuss ways to protect kids and staff BEFORE they get poisoned. There is a way and it isn't that costly. Too bad all of these people were exposed. Low levels do cause damage! Just because people walked away from this does not mean they weren't harmed.
Ron Powell January 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM
The earlier story indicated that there were no injuries or sickness suffered by anyone in the school.
Jeff Waldman January 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Ron- thanks for responding....I'm glad someone is interested in this story as it is an important one. You are right- nobody was removed on a stretcher, thankfully. The concerning part is that there is little knowledge out there (even amongst emergency medical professionals) about diagnosing and identifying low level carbon monoxide poisoning. I spoke to at least one parent of a Barrows student who said their child complained of headaches for 2 days before the 1st alarm sounded. There are several studies that have been done (one by UCLA Medical Center) that show clear medical problems that are a result of low level CO poisoning. Exposures as low as 5ppm have been shown to reduce fetal growth (any pregnant teachers at Barrows?). Scientists have also discovered that exposure to CO levels of 25ppm or less can cause hearing loss by damaging auditory nerves. The list goes on and on (Google CO low level and oxidative stress). Why do fire departments (Reading included) not allow their firefighters to enter a building that has 25ppm or above....yet we are OK with CO alarms that cannot warn us until the level reaches 70ppm for FOUR HOURS? There is something wrong with this picture. I respectfully disagree that there were no injuries or sickness...it's just that no one has gotten checked out or done the research. OSHA does not allow there to be 50ppm for an 8 hour period or buildings are under violation...yet the alarms in the school do not sound off or warn people until the level gets to 70ppm (for 4 hours). READ THE BACK OF YOUR CO ALARM!!! It says it in plain english right on every label.
Ron Powell January 18, 2014 at 02:24 PM
Sorry, Jeff, for not getting back to you sooner. I'll take a look into some of the points you made. I was aware of the risk to pre-natal development. The question I have for Matt: was it a CO alarm, or was it a particular CO reading that led to the evacuation? Have school officials isolated the problem?


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