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FDOH: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Cases Increase After Natural Disasters

"Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and death if present in sufficient concentration in the ambient air," says the FDOH website. Here's a portable generator which emits CO.
"Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and death if present in sufficient concentration in the ambient air," says the FDOH website. Here's a portable generator which emits CO.

Florida health officials say after major storms and natural disasters, there’s an increase of carbon monoxide poisoning cases, and they're informing people why and how to prevent it aheadof Hurricane Irma. 

Andrea McKinney, with the Florida Department of Health, says people tend to make the mistake of running portable generators and cooking with charcoal grills in their homes when power goes out during a natural disaster.

"After storms and natural disasters, we can see an increase of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of generators and charcoal grills around the home," she says. 

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Credit Public Domain/Pixabay/sipa
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McKinney says carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of poison-related deaths in the US. The FDOH website says the most common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, confusion, and dizziness. McKinney recommends residents install carbon monoxide alarms, especially near where people are sleeping.

"Those are kind of used as a backup," she says. "They’re not a replacement for the proper use, maintenance of any fuel burning appliance or gas powered portable equipment but it can help with alarming you if carbon monoxide has built up in a home."

She says portable generators should be at least 20 feet away from homes. They should not be near air conditioners or ventilators that can bring the carbon monoxide into the home. She also says opening windows to air out a building is not gonna prevent the build-up of life threatening levels of carbon monoxide. 

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