Avoid Deadly Carbon Monoxide by Operating Generators, Charcoal Grills Outdoors

Raleigh, NC

Multiple North Carolina counties have reported power outages related to the effects of Hurricane Irma. As people use alternative sources of power, North Carolina health officials are cautioning people about the risk of using gasoline-powered equipment, like generators, charcoal or gas grills, camping stoves and kerosene heaters, in enclosed spaces.

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 without anyone noticing. Low or moderate levels of carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting. High levels of carbon monoxide can kill people in minutes if they do not immediately get fresh air.

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

To keep you and your family 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 use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short amount of time. 
  • 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.

If you experience symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting, you 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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