As the region faces a major winter storm and the possibility of power outages, the Norwalk Health Department and the CT Department of Public Health (CT DPH) urge you to take steps to stay safe by understanding the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal. Breathing in too much CO can cause loss of consciousness or death. More than half of CO poisonings in Connecticut occur when people don’t use their portable generators properly. To prevent CO poisoning, follow these tips from CT DPH and the Norwalk Health Department:
- Never use portable generators or other gasoline-powered equipment (including tools) indoors or in the garage, basement, shed or other enclosed spaces. Even if the garage or shed doors are open, CO gas can still build up to dangerous levels within minutes.
- Place portable generators at least 20-25 feet from your home. CO poisonings have occurred when outdoor portable generators were too close to the house and exhaust was blown back into the house.
- Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is NOT sufficient to prevent buildup of CO in a home.
- Only use charcoal and gas grills or camping stoves outdoors.
- Make sure exhaust vents for your furnace and gas appliances (dyers, stoves) are free of snow. Exhaust vents blocked by snow can cause combustion gases to back up into the home.
- Make sure your car’s exhaust pipe is clear. A clogged exhaust pipe could lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your vehicle. Fatalities have occurred when people trying warm themselves in their car did not clear snow from exhaust pipe, allowing CO gas to build-up in the car.
- Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home. If you use space heaters, keep them 3 feet from curtains and other flammable items and turn them off before going to sleep. Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu symptoms: headache, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, or loss of consciousness. People who are sleeping or unconscious can die from CO poisoning before they exhibit any symptoms. Anyone exhibiting these symptoms should leave the house immediately and call 911 and the Connecticut Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 from another location.