Everything you need to know about Carbon Monoxide, but were afraid to ask (part 1)

We have already talked a little bit about ways to prepare for storms and for winter, and ways to keep yourself and your family safe in your home. One topic that spans both of these issues is Carbon Monoxide, or CO. We want our customers and our community to be aware of the dangers of CO poisoning and how to lower your risk factors.

With the threat of Hurricane Sandy the Frankenstorm headed our way, I want to start our CO series with some reminders about generators and how to spot potential CO poisoning. First, the symptoms:

• Headache  •  Dizziness  •  Nausea  •  Flu-like symptoms, fatigue  •  Shortness of breath on exertion  •  Impaired judgment  •  Chest pain  •  Confusion  •  Depression  •  Hallucinations  •  Agitation  •  Vomiting  •  Abdominal pain  •  Drowsiness  •  Visual changes  •  Fainting  •  Seizure  •  Memory problems  •  Walking problems

Keep in mind that because of their smaller bodies, young children and household pets are often the first affected by CO and may start demonstrating symptoms before adults experience any ill effects. If you begin to notice these symptoms in anyone in your home, you should immediately evacuate the home and seek medical attention. Fresh air is your source of first aid for CO poisoning, so get everyone including pets outside as soon as possible.

Portable generators are a great resource when storms are looming, but they must be used with care. Do not ever, under any circumstances, operate your generator indoors, including garages. If you are coping without power and using camping equipment, do not use gasoline, propane, or kerosene devices indoors. This includes lanterns, campstoves, grills, and any other device that burns fuel to operate. DON’T use them indoors. This handy video from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (part of the US Department of Commerce) explains “How Close Is Too Close For Portable Generators”:

We’ll discuss more about how to prevent CO poisoning in future posts, but wanted to get the word out about storm safety before the rain starts falling. Stay safe everyone!

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