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Carbon Monoxide Safety in Power Outages
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.
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)
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. When the power went out for several days after Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of two deaths and four non-fatal poisonings in Maine. In each case, the carbon monoxide came from improper use of generators.
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)
For More Information
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