How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After an Emergency

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Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.When power outages occur during emergencies such as hurricanes or winter storms, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and to poison the people and animals inside.Every year, more than 500 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. CO is often found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, 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. Fortunately, this article will teach you how to prevent any type of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Steps

  1. Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  2. Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  3. Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  4. 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.
  5. Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  6. Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  7. If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  8. If CO poisoning is suspected and you are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous, consult a health care professional right away.
  9. Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.

Tips

  • Generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper - or even outside near an open window.

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Sources and Citations

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