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Avoid Deadly Carbon Monoxide During and After Hurricane Florence

Raleigh

As North Carolinians prepare for Hurricane Florence, officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are cautioning people about the risks of using gasoline-powered generators and outdoor grills and camp stoves that use charcoal or propane gas in enclosed spaces.

“The safety and health of North Carolinians is our first priority before, during and after the storm,” said State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Tilson, M.D., MPH. “With expected prolonged power outages, we want to people stay safe after the storm has passed.”

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned. In an enclosed space, such as a home, garage, car or camper, carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels quickly. Low or moderate levels of carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting. High levels of the gas can be deadly within minutes.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal to anyone, especially children, pregnant women, older adults and/or those with chronic illness. Also, individuals who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before ever becoming aware of their symptoms.

To stay safe: 

  • Do not use gasoline-powered engines in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Use them outdoors, at least 20 feet from doors, windows and vents.  
  • Do not use charcoal grills or propane stoves indoors, even in a fireplace.  
  • Do not idle your car or truck in the garage, even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up quickly in the garage and living area of your home.  
  • Keep rooms well ventilated.  
  • Read and follow all instructions that accompany fuel-burning devices. Use the proper fuel and make sure there is enough air for ventilation and fuel burning.  
  • Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. 

Those experiencing symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. Get to fresh air immediately and seek medical care.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, visit: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/a_z/co.html.

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