A minor league hockey game in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, took a dangerous turn on the night of Saturday, December 13, when a carbon monoxide leak in the Poppy Waterman Ice Rink, posed a threat to players and fans alike.
According to CNN,several hockey players began complaining of headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Several players vomited, and one player even fainted.
Local news source Madison.com noted that the fire department was called to the Lake Delton hockey rink shortly after 10:30 p.m., after emergency heath and safety personnel recognized the players’ symptoms as signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The source of the gas, according to officials, was the ice rink’s Zamboni — the machine that drives across the ice and clears off excess ice shavings, making it easier for players to skate.
According to the local fire chief, the employee operating the Zamboni hadn’t realized that its propane-fueled engine wasn’t fully combusting the propane, and that the machine’s ventilation system hadn’t been able to filter out the gas, despite passing inspections just a few months before the season started. Surprisingly, the ice rink isn’t legally required to have a carbon monoxide detector detector installed, despite having a fuel-burning machine running through the rink regularly.
Many players, fans, and staff had already left the ice rink by the time the fire department discovered high levels of carbon monoxide, but 81 people were still hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning after reporting flu-like symptoms, similar to what the hockey players experienced.
It appears that no fatal injuries are likely to occur, although the player who fainted had to receive emergency oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber, Madison.com states, and was ordered to stay in bed for at least three to four days.
Although this particular situation is very uncommon, the problem of carbon monoxide poisoning is, unfortunately, all too common in residential buildings — especially as the winter weather rolls in and people start turning up their heating systems.