Two EMTs were having dinner at a Long Island Applebee’s on Tuesday night when they found themselves in the midst of an unexpected emergency.
Justin Gau, 18, and Kyle Page, 22, said that as they were walking to their seats, their portable carbon monoxide detectors suddenly went off.
Hesitant to raise a false alarm, the EMTs checked the detectors to make sure they were picking up a real signal.
“I made Justin go outside once or twice to reset it to make sure it was functioning before we screwed up everyone’s evening,” Page said.
After they confirmed that the sensors were indeed working, Gau and Page ordered everyone out of the restaurant and called the fire department.
About 100 patrons and employees were evacuated. Several said they felt sick and were examined at the scene, but they declined further treatment.
Air samples confirmed that CO levels in the restaurant were far above normal.
According to the EPA, the average carbon monoxide level in homes can range from 0.5 ppm to 15 ppm depending on whether or not the house has a gas stove.
Levels in the restaurant, however, were at dangerously high levels ranging from 80 ppm to 250 ppm—high enough to cause potentially serious or even deadly consequences.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that “at sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.”
“After they closed up, they shut down the ventilation system and the CO could have been pumping in there all night and whoever opened in the morning could have been a bad turn out,” Page said.
The problem was later attributed to a faulty water heater. The Hauppauge restaurant reportedly does not have a CO detector.