If your home experiences a power outage due to a hurricane, tornado or severe storm, be careful when using alternative power sources because they can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up and poison the people and animals inside.
CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says CO poisoning is entirely preventable and that there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. Also, learn the symptoms of CO poisoning.
How to recognize CO poisoning
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.
CO poisoning prevention tips
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.
For more information, please visit the CDC’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning website.