Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO)
Silence isn't always golden, especially when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. When power outages occur after severe weather (such as hurricanes or tornadoes), using alternative sources of power can cause CO to build-up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death.
- Every year, more than 400 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning.
- Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen.
- When you inhale CO, your body replaces the oxygen in blood with CO.
- People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
- When using a generator, be sure to also use a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector. If it sounds, leave the building immediately and call 911.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.