Health Officials Warn of Carbon Monoxide Dangers During Winter Storm Cleanup
109 Governor Street , Richmond, Virginia 23219 ● www.vdh.virginia.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18 , 2009
For More Information Contact
A.J. Hostetler, (804) 864-7553
Cheryle Rodriguez, Central Region PIO, (804) 864-8236
Maribeth Brewster, Northern Region PIO, (703) 934-0623
Larry Hill, Eastern Region PIO, (757) 683-9175
Bobby Parker, Southwest Region PIO, (540) 381-7100, ext. 151
HEALTH OFFICIALS WARN OF CARBON MONOXIDE DANGERS
DURING WINTER STORM CLEANUP
(RICHMOND, Va.)—Use of gas-powered appliances and generators following winter storms increases the number of carbon monoxide poisoning cases and fatalities. The Virginia Department of Health urges those using alternate means to provide electricity and cooking capabilities to avoid carbon monoxide exposure that can be a silent killer after a storm.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, carbon monoxide may cause:
- Chest pains for those with heart disease
- Shortness of breath upon exertion
- Lack of coordination
- Impaired vision
- Loss of consciousness
- In severe cases, death
VDH recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.
- Never use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up in the home.
- Always locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents and air-conditioning equipment that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Position the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Have your home heating systems (including chimneys and flues) inspected each year for proper operations and leakage.
- Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors or plug-in carbon monoxide detectors with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The carbon monoxide detectors should conform to the latest safety standards for carbon monoxide detectors (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
- Test your carbon monoxide detectors frequently and replace dead batteries.
- If your carbon monoxide detector indicates high levels of carbon monoxide, leave the building immediately and call 911.
- Remember that you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide and portable generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly.
- If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. Do not delay. If someone has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 immediately.
For more information about how to protect yourself and your family before, during and after natural disasters, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov or the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Web site at www.readyvirginia.gov.
# # #