Carbon Monoxide Safety During Power Outages

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause severe illness or death. Carbon Monoxide is found in all fires, as well as fumes produced by charcoal or gas. It is produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems.

CO poisoning can happen any time of year, however, CO poisoning incidents tend to increase during storm-related power outages. Following a 2006 windstorm, 250 people were treated for CO poisoning in the Puget Sound area and eight died, all from either burning charcoal briquettes inside their homes or from improper use of gasoline-powered generators.

Here are ways to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

1. Do not burn charcoal or use gasoline generators indoors, including the garage.

2. Never use gas ovens to heat your home, even for a short time.

3. If you use a fireplace or wood stove, make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.

4. Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.

5. If you use gas or oil appliances, make certain carbon monoxide alarms are installed on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area.

If the CO detector sounds, turn off any heating appliance and open windows to get fresh air. Call 911 if you experience CO poisoning symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, or headaches and move to fresh air immediately. If you suspect an appliance is the source, call a qualified technician to fix the problem before restarting the appliance.

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