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Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

With the impending ice storm, the Maine Center for Disease Control is reminding residents to be safe with their generators and space heaters. If these appliances are not properly vented, it could result in carbon monoxide poisoning, causing illness or even death.

In a press release this week, state toxicologist Andrew Smith urged Mainers to keep their generators outside, to prevent accidental poisoning. Carbon Monoxide poisoning will cause headaches, some nausea, but especially drowsiness. It’s a frightening thing because you may not realize it’s the deadly gas that’s making you sleepy.

The Maine CDC released the following tips for staying safe…

How to Prevent CO Poisoning During Power Outages

  • Place generator outdoors in the fresh air. Keep it at least 15 feet from windows or doors. Do not put a generator in a closed or partly closed space, like a basement, cellar bulkhead, or attached garage. Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels in these spaces.
  • Make a plan for how to keep your generator dry and protected from ice and snow so you are not tempted to bring it inside a garage or other enclosed structure. Generators also pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially in wet conditions. Dry your hands before touching a generator.
  • Do not use outdoor cooking devices, such as grills or camp stoves, indoors.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector that is battery powered (or has battery back-up power) outside each sleeping area. CO detectors are in most stores. Look for the UL mark with the “Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm” statement.

 If You Suspect CO Poisoning

  •  Leave the house at once.
  •  Call the fire department or 911.
  • Get medical attention. Call the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) or your doctor after you leave the house.
  • Do not go back into the building until the fire department tells you it is safe.

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