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Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Using a Generator

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Author name: Lee Health


carbon monoxide poisoning graphic

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. 

If you’re still without electricity and powering your home with a generator or using charcoal grill to cook meals, please follow these steps to ensure your family’s safety from CO poisoning.

CO detectors

  • Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.

Portable generators

  • Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
  • Keep generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death.

How to recognize CO poisoning

Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. Children, pregnant women and individuals with heart conditions are most vulnerable.

Common symptoms of CO poisoning

  • Headache, dizziness, confusion
  • Weakness, nausea
  • Vomiting

Do this if someone exhibits symptoms of CO poisoning

Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside the home or building without delay and seek prompt medical attention. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safer location such as outside or from a neighbor's home.

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