Last month, tens of thousands of Floridians in Hurricane Irma’s path were forced to evacuate their homes to affirm the safety of their families. When they returned after the storm, widespread power outages throughout the state presented 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 lead to abrupt 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 build up in enclosed or even partially enclosed spaces.
People and animals in these spaces can be infected and even die from exposure to the poisonous gas. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning but infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to become sick from carbon monoxide exposure.
Each year, more than 400 Americans die from accidental 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 normal 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 run 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 operate a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
As reinforced in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it is not always obvious where potential sources of carbon monoxide poisoning lie. In fact, the number of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning usually 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 changing 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 properly.
Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 205-267-0023 or schedule an analysis of carbon monoxide and other harmful indoor air pollutant levels online