Storm Preparation Safety Reminder from CT Poison Control

The Connecticut Poison Control Center at the UConn Health Center is issuing a reminder about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to keep your family safe from it.

“We want people to understand their risk of CO poisoning and go out and buy a CO detector—and extra batteries for it—while they are doing their other storm preparations,” says Amy Hanoian-Fontana, community education specialist with the Connecticut Poison Control Center. “From past cases we know that having a CO detector can lower your risk of CO poisoning.”

With past storms’ carbon monoxide cases in mind, poison center experts have these recommendations:

  • Make sure your home is equipped with a working carbon monoxide detector, with battery backup, ideally installed near sleeping areas.
  • Do not use propane or kerosene heaters inside your home. It is also not recommended to heat your home with your gas oven or stove top.
  • Use generators outside and at least 20 feet from your home. Keep your generator away from doors, windows or air intake vents.  Make sure outside vents are not blocked with snow or leaves. Poison center data show that generators were the most likely source of CO poisoning in past storms.
  • Never use generators, charcoal grills, gas grills, or other gasoline powered tools indoors or in a garage, carport, basement or other enclosed space, such as a covered porch. “Even if doors and windows are open, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up quickly,” Hanoian-Fontana says.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, unclear thinking, shortness of breath, weakness, and loss of muscle control. Severe symptoms can include convulsions and unconsciousness that can lead to death.

“If your CO alarm goes off, or if you experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside immediately,” Hanoian-Fontana says. “Use your cell phone or a neighbor’s phone to call the poison center or 911.”

Health care professionals and the public can call the Poison Control Center any time, day or night, at 1-800-222-1222 to report poisonings and get immediate treatment advice from poison specialists.

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