As Floridians finalize preparation for Hurricane Ian and the potential for power outages, the Florida Department of Health is urging the public to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) exposure by taking precautions with gas-powered appliances and charcoal or gas grills.
Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.
DOH 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 CO build-up in the home.
-- NEVER use a tarp, plastic, or other covering over a generator. This inhibits the air flow
and is a potential fire hazard.
-- ALWAYS locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents,
and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors. Follow the
instructions that come with your generator.
-- ALWAYS place the generator at least 20 feet away from the house.
Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
-- Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.
REMEMBER: you cannot see or smell CO and portable generators can produce high levels of CO 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 you have a poisoning emergency, call your nearest Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 immediately.