On Monday, May 5th, of this year, it was business as usual for the families of the historic town of Pequannock, New Jersey. Parents got up, prepared for work, dressed their children, dropped them off at the local childcare center, and clocked into their day jobs. Little did they know, that in a few hours, they would get a phone call that every parent dreads; the one where you find out your child may be in danger.
Around 10am, police responded to a call from the So Big Child Care Center on Route 23. The caller complained of a strong smell of exhaust, and that children and adults alike were suffering from headaches and nausea. The building was evacuated, and the 90 evacuees (34 children and approximately 66 adults) were immediately treated by the township first aid department, the Pequannock Fire department, and various paramedic units.
The last evacuees were treated around 2:30p.m., at which point the EMS command center closed. But the story does not end there. Police investigated the source of the fumes, and found that the toxic vapors had come from construction equipment in a space next door to the daycare. The contractor had been hired to perform an interior demolition. As of right now, the demolition has been halted until the Pequannock police department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conclude their investigation.
According to Louis C. Hochman, a writer for nj.com, gas and diesel powered equipment were being used in the building, and due to a lack of ventilation, the fumes were trapped inside. The contractor in question was not permitted to do such extensive demolition, stated representatives from the Pequannock Police Department.
Since construction has been stopped, of the So Big Child Development Center was re-opened the next day, after the building had been properly ventilated, and expects to continue to offer quality and affordable care for young children. The events of the 5th were unfortunate, but luckily no one was hurt by what can be a silent killer. If you are a contractor and are working indoors please take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your employees, and any others that may be affected from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.