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Carbon-monoxide threat clears factory

Emergency responders at Sprecher Brewery in suburban Milwaukee evacuated everyone for almost two hours the afternoon of Nov. 14, after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found throughout the plant.

The CO was discovered after an accident in which an employee was hit by several kegs that fell. North Shore firefighters and ambulance crews responded to the mishap around 4 p.m. at the Glendale brewing facility - and a carbon monoxide alarm attached to one of their medical kits sounded.

Paramedics discovered elevated C-O levels in much of the plant, so authorities evacuated it. Paramedic Dan Tyk said exhaust from a forklift was the apparent source of the carbon monoxide.

The brewery was aired out before workers returned about 6 p.m. The injured employee suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Officials warn against CO

State health officials also reminded people this week that people should protect themselves against CO poisoning, the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States.

Nearly half of all carbon-monoxide deaths occur during the winter. CO is an odorless gas emitted from older and unvented furnaces, and other gas-powered appliances. People have been known to die in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Two years ago, Wisconsin passed a law requiring every house to have carbon monoxide detectors - one on every floor, including the basement. Officials say people should test their CO detectors on a regular basis, change the batteries each year, and make sure all heating appliances have proper vents.