(WTNH)– With all the snow and strong winds heading our way, there will be snowdrifts and potential power outages, a recipe for carbon monoxide poisoning.
The threat of carbon monoxide poisoning is real. You can’t see, smell, or taste the gas.
“So when the snow blows against the house it can block vents,” said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor of Hartford Hospital. “If you have a gas-powered dryer, definitely make sure that vent is cleared away because carbon monoxide won’t have anywhere to go but back into your house.”
Dr. Johnson-Arbor heads up the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Hartford Hospital, where people with CO poisoning are treated with oxygen. Another potential source of CO, a blocked car tailpipe.
“Before you turn on your car after the snow stops, be sure to clear off the exhaust area, even if you think there is not snow in the tailpipe,” said Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “Be sure to make sure the tailpipe is completely cleared out because there could be snow in there and you might not see it.”
She says generators should be kept outside, at least 20 feet away from your home.
“You should never put a generator in the house or in the garage, even with the door open,” said Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “The gas can drift back into the garage or into the house and can kill you.”
In the blizzard of 2013 there were a couple of deaths linked to carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If everyone in your home comes down with it at the same time, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says it is not likely the flu. She recommends getting out as quickly as possible and calling 911.
The Connecticut Poison Control Center is open 24/7 to also answer questions, you can call them at 800-222-1222.
To protect yourself and your family, the CDC published the following CO poisoning prevention tips:
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
- Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
More information is available at CDC.gov