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Carbon monoxide has killed seven in Kentucky since ice storm hit

The biggest killer in the ice storm this week has not been the bone-chilling temperatures, car wrecks or falling trees and power lines, but the silent killer known as carbon monoxide.

The gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It's emitted by burning gasoline, kerosene, propane and charcoal.

At least seven carbon monoxide deaths have been reported this week. Three adults were found dead Friday in Louisville, and one death was reported in Christian County on Thursday.

Overall, at least nine deaths have been linked to the storm.

The Lexington fire department has responded to 17 carbon monoxide-related calls since Tuesday. It has transported seven people to the hospital. Nobody in Fayette County had died from exhaust poisoning as of Friday evening.

Through Friday afternoon, the Kentucky Poison Control Center had received 95 phone calls in 72 hours seeking information about carbon monoxide poisoning. At least 40 people throughout the state have been treated, the center said.

The poison-control hotline is 1-800-222-1222.

In Hopkinsville in Christian County, investigators said Joseph Norman Jr., 76, bought a gas generator Wednesday to power heaters and other items in his home. He put it in a utility room, opened the window 2 inches, and covered the entryway with a thin bed comforter, apparently thinking it would keep the exhaust from reaching the living quarters, deputy coroner Mike Stokes said.

On Thursday morning, Norman's daughter discovered him dead in the living room. Thick black exhaust was throughout the house.

Firefighters had to ventilate the home before Stokes could examine Norman, he said. Several police officers reported having headaches and feeling sick to their stomachs, early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In Lexington, firefighters responded to a call on Patterson Street after a mother said she thought she and her three kids were suffering salmonella poisoning after eating peanut butter, fire department spokesman Marshall Griggs said.

At UK Hospital, carbon monoxide poisoning was diagnosed. Firefighters found a charcoal grill in the home's kitchen.

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