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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > MaineCDC Urges Carbon Monoxide Safety

MaineCDC Urges Carbon Monoxide Safety


February 23, 2009

10:00 AM


With thousands of homes out of power from the recent winter storm, the Maine Center for Disease Control warns Maine citizens to be very careful using gas-powered generators, kerosene heaters or other heating or power sources during power outages. If not used safely, they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas formed when burning most types of fuels. Using gas-powered generators, kerosene heaters, charcoal grills, and gas grills can cause poisoning if CO gas builds-up in closed in spaces. Warning signs of CO poisoning are flu symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, but without a fever. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause coma and death. Every year, more than 500 people die in the U.S. due to CO poisoning.

How To Prevent CO Poisoning During Power Outages:

  • Place generator outdoors in the fresh air. Keep it away from windows or doors. Do not put a generator in a closed or partly closed space, like a basement, cellar bulkhead, or attached garage. Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels in these spaces.
  • Use kerosene heaters in a well ventilated room. Keep doors to other rooms open or keep a window open at least 1 inch. Use only K-1 grade fuel in kerosene heaters. Read the directions for setting the wick height.
  • Do not use outdoor cooking devices indoors like gas or charcoal grills, gas camp stoves.
  • Do not use gas appliances like ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home.
  • Always turn off your vehicle in a garage.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector that is battery powered (or has battery back-up power) in the hallway outside each sleeping area. Be sure Underwriters Laboratory certifies the CO detector. Look for the UL mark with the "Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm" statement. CO detectors are in most stores.

If You Suspect CO Poisoning:

If you or anyone in the home thinks you are being poisoned by carbon monoxide:

  • Leave the house at once.
  • Call the fire department or 911.
  • Get medical attention. Call the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) or your doctor after you leave the house.
  • Do not go back into the building until the fire department tells you it is safe.



Maine CDC


Last update: 07/20/10