Carbon Monoxide Safety During and After a Storm

Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outage

If your home experiences a power outage due to a hurricane, tornado or severe storm, be careful when using alternative power sources. Alternative power sources can cause dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) to build up and poison the people and animals inside.

Never run a generator inside a home, basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.

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 die from breathing CO.

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 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 and learn the warning signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion

People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever presenting symptoms.

CO poisoning prevention tips

  • 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.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • 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 leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, call 911 immediately.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning website and share these fact sheets on Carbon Monoxide and Generator Safety: English, Spanish.

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