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MAINE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
As Power Outages Increase, So Does Carbon Monoxide Risk
August 28, 2011
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outages
A Message from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)
Power outages are increasing dramatically as Tropical Storm Irene pushes through New England and Maine.
Mainers should be extremely careful when using a gas-powered generator or similar alternative heating or power sources. Improper operation or placement of such devices can lead to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Warning signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms without fever (such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion). CO poisoning can also result in coma and death. CO is an odorless gas emitted when burning most fuels. Improper operation or placement of alternative heating or power sources can result in poisoning when CO gas builds-up in enclosed spaces.
A State study of the CO poisoning epidemic, in the aftermath of the January 1998 ice storm power outages, found that improper placement of a gasoline generator, such as in a basement or garage, could increase the risk of poisoning up to 300-fold. Using a kerosene heater in a room without any doors to other rooms opened, or failing to crack a window, also put people at increased risk for CO poisoning.
To Avoid CO Poisoning During Power Outages:
If You Suspect CO Poisoning
If you or anyone in the home suspect you are being poisoned by carbon monoxide:
The following publications are from the MaineCDC:
(These publications are in Adobe .pdf format)
Contact:State EOC/Maine CDC
Last update: 07/20/10
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