Last month, tens of thousands of Floridians in Hurricane Irma’s path were forced to evacuate their homes to assure the safety of their families. When they returned after the storm, widespread power outages throughout the state produced a looming danger in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning as many residents relied on generators as their only source of electricity.
Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas which can induce sudden illness and death, is found in fumes produced by portable generators as well as stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, clothes driers, water heaters, furnaces and gas ranges or by burning charcoal and wood. Carbon monoxide from these sources can intensify in enclosed or even partially enclosed spaces.
People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and even die from exposure to the poisonous gas. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning but infants, the elderly, and people with long-term heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to become ill from carbon monoxide exposure.
Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unexpected carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. Because initial symptoms often mirror the flu and can be as common as fatigue, nausea, dizziness and headaches, carbon monoxide poisoning is often known as the silent killer.
The following are carbon monoxide poisoning prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Don’t operate a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, and garage or near a window.
Don’t operate a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
As evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it is not always clear where possible sources of carbon monoxide poisoning can be. In fact, the number of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning generally grows in the cooler months ahead as many homeowners turn on their furnaces to keep their families warm and comfortable for the season.
Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning suggests updating your carbon monoxide detectors every five years and checking your carbon monoxide and fire detectors each month to verify the batteries and alarm are operating correctly.
Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 239-908-6991 or schedule an analysis of carbon monoxide and other harmful indoor air pollutant levels online