A woman has lived to tell the tale of how she and her friends got carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from smoking hookah.
TikTok user @THEmarieerachelle’s first viral video shows the aftermath of the scary ordeal. In it, she and her three friends sit in a hospital room with oxygen masks attached to their faces.
“Hookah gave us carbon monoxide poisoning,” the text overlay read. The video amassed over 4.3 million views by Wednesday.
@themarieerachelle #fyp #fypシ #xybcza #hookah #blowthisup #funnyaf #veteransday #grinch #veteran @jazmonaee @Dej.k_ @Kay.___ ♬ im already drunk – Cheesyy 🐐💕
According to Penn Medicine, carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when CO replaces oxygen in your blood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, and dizziness.
Since CO is a colorless and odorless gas, many people don’t realize that they‘re breathing it in until it’s too late. This can result in serious illness or death. CO detectors are used to detect CO in the air and sound an alarm to warn users of dangerous levels.
@THEmarieerachelle shared a follow-up video to explain how the incident occurred and spread awareness about the potential dangers of hookah.
She began by explaining that she and her friends are OK, but they now realize the gravity of the situation. “We literally could’ve died,” she said.
@themarieerachelle #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo #fyp #fypシ #hookah #storytime #xybca #blowthisup ♬ original sound – THEmarieerachelle
She shared that her friends had surprised her with a cake, alcohol, and an orange head for her hookah to help her get over a breakup. In a comment, she explained that an “orange head” is a halved orange that has flavored tobacco in it.
Since she has smoked hookah in her apartment before, she knew to leave the balcony door open for fresh air circulation and have her air purifier and fan running.
Within the course of five hours, she and her friends went through three hookah charcoals. According to Hookah Shisha, charcoals are used as the heat source to cook the shisha tobacco.
It was around 8pm that one of her friends began to complain that her head was hurting. But since they had been smoking and drinking for hours, they didn’t take the complaint seriously.
It wasn’t until the rest of them started to experience symptoms that they realized the danger they were in. This was compounded by the CO detector going off.
“After much panic and confusion, we had to call 911,” she said. The emergency personnel tested the apartment and confirmed that the levels of CO were dangerously high. They believed that this was caused by the coals burning for hours without proper ventilation.
By the time the girls were at the hospital, @THEmarieerachelle said that they were all experiencing symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, and pounding headaches. They were put on oxygen for several hours to flush the CO out of their systems.
The hospital staff said that the girls were lucky to be alive. “If we had stayed in the apartment any longer, we would’ve been at lethal levels,” @THEmarieerachelle said.
An article by the University of Iowa reports that often, those who die from carbon monoxide poisoning fall unconscious from the gas and don’t wake up.
“It’s something that seems like it’s so simple, but we could’ve died so if you’re going to smoke anything, smoke it in a well-ventilated area and stop after about an hour or two,” @THEmarieerachelle warned.
The near-death experience left many people in the comments unsettled.
“That’s literally so scary,” this user wrote. “Glad you didn’t go to sleep,” this user wrote.
Many were grateful that the story had a happy ending. “Thank God for your detector. So glad y’all are okay!”
Those who use hookah also shared similar stories.
“Sooooo you telling me that time my head was hurting when I was smoking hooka I had carbon monoxide poisoning,” this woman wrote.
“This literally happened to me. Had to call fire department too,” another wrote.
The Daily Dot reached out to @THEmarieerachelle via TikTok comment.