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Power Outage Safety: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 373-0860

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2012

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health is urging residents across Michigan who were impacted by strong wind storms to take proper safety precaution if the power is out.

Residents should be very careful when using gas-powered generators, kerosene heaters or other alternative heating or power sources during power outages. If not used safely, they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas formed when fuel is burned. The only way to tell if it is present is with a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels within minutes in enclosed spaces.

Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, but not a fever. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause coma and death.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when the power is out:

  • NEVER run a generator inside your house or in your garage, and keep it away from windows and doors. (If theft is a concern, lock it to a tree or fence.)
  • NEVER use charcoal or propane grills or camp stoves indoors.
  • Do not use portable heaters powered by propane or kerosene inside.
  • Always turn off your vehicle in the garage.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway, outside bedrooms, or in all sleeping areas.

Michigan's carbon monoxide poisoning tracking system counted 39 unintentional deaths and 1,340 non-fatal unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings in 2009 alone. More than 60 percent occurred during the winter months and happened most frequently at home.

If you suspect you or a family member has carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately and call 911. For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide.

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