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Children nearly killed by gas from fire pit in home

PENSACOLA - When the temperature drops, some turn to dangerous activities to keep warm.

Pensacola firefighters say they helped avert a potentially deadly situation last Friday when a man brought a fire pit into his home. Both he and his young children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

When firefighters got to the house on Lloyd Street, they found a father complaining of flu-like symptoms and two children who were tired and a little out of it.

Three year-old Hanif Lengan fell down after his father brought a burning fire pit from outside and placed it in his kitchen. Hanif's six year-old brother was also home at the time. Firefighters say the charcoal that was burning gave off extremely dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

"He was just trying to warm the place," said Laliatu Lengan, the children's mother, who was not home at the time.
She says her husband called 911 after her son fell down.       
The children were treated and released from the hospital. Laliatu says everyone is okay.

Firefighters replaced batteries in two smoke detectors in the home, which they say were not operating at the time.

"It was life-threatening had they not called," said David Allen, the fire marshal for the City of Pensacola.

Allen says people need to be aware of the dangers of not only flames but carbon monoxide.

"It is a colorless, odorless gas, and it is accepted more readily by the human body than oxygen," Allen said, "So it will replace the oxygen and when you're overcome by carbon monoxide you no longer can help yourself."

Allen recommends purchasing smoke detectors that also detect carbon monoxide, which cost just a few dollars more but can save lives.

There are a few things you can do to try and avoid sparking a fire at your home.

Make sure you turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
And while it's on, make sure the heater is in an area with at least three feet of space.
Never use an oven to heat your home.
Update smoke alarms and make sure they have working batteries.
And in case of an emergency you should have a fire escape plan that your entire family knows.