Health officials warn of silent killer after storm
"Gasoline powered, 4000 watt, portable electric generator. Be ready when the electric goes out!"

Portable Electric Generator

With thousands of people still without power after Hurricane Michael, the state’s Department of Health is warning of the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Generators “can cause CO to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside,” a Monday press release said.

“CO is found in fumes produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, charcoal and wood,” it said. “Large amounts of CO can quickly overwhelm a person without warning, which leads to greater risk of illness or death especially with increased exposure time.”

Added Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida’s Surgeon General: “Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can cause illness and death within a short period of time.

“It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating, which is why taking precautions is vital and having sufficient working CO alarms in your home is critical. Proper use of generators, gas powered tools and grills can protect you and your family from the potential tragedy of an accidental poisoning.”

Common signs and symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, weakness, abdominal discomfort or pain, dizziness and confusion. Children, pregnant women and individuals with heart conditions are most vulnerable.

Anyone who suspects CO poisoning should have the person immediately go outside the home or building to breathe fresh air and seek medical attention.

If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, move them outside and call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately.

Tips to help prevent CO poisoning include:

— Never use a portable generator or a fuel-powered tool indoors or in other enclosed or partially enclosed areas.  Always place portable generators outdoors on a dry surface far away (at least 20 feet, further if possible) from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to enter.

— Never use outside equipment like a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, portable camping stove or propane or natural gas grills/burners inside a home, tent, or camper.

— Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

— Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup inside a home at least one per level and bedroom cluster.

For more information, call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. To learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, click here or the call the Radon and Indoor Air Program at 1-800-543-8279.

Staff Reports


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