Family's warning to parents after faulty fridge is blamed for 10-year-old boy's death.

A boy’s death from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty fridge has served as a warning to parents to check their appliances to keep their kids safe.

Ten-year-old Gavin Klebs was staying in a cabin in Alaska on holiday with his parents and two siblings when he was struck by carbon monoxide poisoning and was found dead on August 20.

His mother Sarah was at home with Gavin and his younger sibling Caroline, eight, when the boy began vomiting and his sister complained of a headache, Alaska Dispatch News reports.

Thinking her children had the flu, Sarah gave them medicine and put them to bed – not realising that carbon monoxide leaking from a faulty fridge was causing their symptoms.

The next evening, parents of the friend where older brother Connor had spent the night drove to the cabin to find Sarah and Caroline unresponsive in their beds and that Gavin had died on a couch. Mum and daughter were released from hospital days later and are expected to make full recoveries, but the family is mourning the loss of their son.

A GoFundMe page to supporting the family has so far raised more than AU$32,000.

Gavin’s grieving father also hopes his son’s story serves as a timely warning to parents.

So what exactly can people do to stop carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes? Well, first, it’s important to know that carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is therefore undetectable.

The Klebs family have been left devastated. (Image via GoFundMe.)

Symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, confusion, and chest pain and poisoning may result in loss of consciousness, heart disease, brain damage and, if exposure continues, death.

It is most commonly caused by a faulty gas heater. One of the most important things to do is to ensure the heater is professionally serviced every two years. If it has recently been serviced, but is still showing any sign of trouble, you should get it checked again immediately.


Signs of danger include an unusual yellow or sooty flame, the pilot light going out unexpectedly, or ‘popping’ or ‘banging’ when lighting, the surrounding walls becoming too hot to touch while the heater is on, or the presence of soot stains around the heater.

However, as Gavin Klebs's passing shows us, other gas appliances, which may include fridges and barbecues, can also cause problems and deserve as much attention.

Gavin's father Matt told Alaska Dispatch News that as a mechanical contractor he regularly performed maintenance and checks on the fridge.

That's why they are encouraging families to install a carbon monoxide detector in their home, in addition to those all-important checks. Detectors range in price - up to hundreds of dollars - but Mamamia found several that retail for around $40.

To find out if your fridge uses gas, please contact your manufacturer.

For more information, visit VicHealth here or Product Safety Australia here.


  • To read about how comedian Fiona O’Loughlin fell into a month-long coma because of her heater, click here.
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Listen: What you need to know about safety with a baby.