The governor of Kansas now says six people in the state died as a result of the storm and that includes a brother and sister who died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The siblings were using a generator after the power went out at their homes.
A relative of theirs is now using their tragedy as a warning to others about not making the same deadly mistake.
"It's tough, everyone expects eventually to pass but, to lose two important family members at the same time, it's rough," Jason Mendez said.
Mendez said it still seems unreal to think of losing two family members in one day. His aunt, Alice Oropeza, 69, and her brother, 58-year-old Nick Oropeza, were found not breathing in their Kansas City, KS, home off North 51st Street near Kimball Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
"Actually it was one of my cousins who found them and tried to revive them and worked on them until EMS got here," Mendez said. "And unfortunately they were unable to do so."
Like so many others, the Oropezas were in the dark without electricity because of the snow storm, so they ran a generator in the garage, unaware a silent killer, carbon monoxide, was filling their home. That's why Mendez wants to urge families to check on their loves ones before it's too late.
"A lot of them, when they get cold, they do what they have to do to stay warm and, unfortunately, it was a bad choice. The garage wasn't open wide enough and the fumes took them," he said.
Mendez said his aunt and uncle left behind 21 nieces and nephews who adored them.
"My aunt was definitely someone who liked to feed everyone, she was someone that kept us amused," he said. "My uncle was another one who was a good time. As you can see, he has a limo. He was one to go on trips all the time. Chicago, New Orleans."
Fire officials did a reading for the carbon monoxide level in their home and found it to be 600 parts per million, or ppm. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's website, "Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 ppm. Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher."
The standard allowed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is no more than 50 ppm.
When they saw the reading fire crews found a generator in the basement that was still running. They shut it off and opened up all the doors and windows until their meters read normal carbon monoxide levels.
Mendez said he hopes others can avoid the tremendous pain his family is now left to cope with.
"Just remember them, if you knew them you know they were good people. Just remember them for who they were," he said.
The fire department wanted to caution others who are using generators at this time to follow the manufacturer's manual and not to run it indoors. It must be operated outside.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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