Carbon Monoxide a Potential Threat From Gas-Powered Generators

Carbon Monoxide a Potential Threat From Gas-Powered Generators

People left without power by storms or power outages may be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if they use portable generators, gas-powered appliances or gas grills improperly, U.S. officials warn.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause illness and death if it builds up inside a home or vehicle. Each year, more than 400 people in the United States die from accidental CO poisoning.

If you're using a generator or any gasoline-powered engine, place it at least 20 feet away from your home. Never use a generator, pressure washer or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement or garage, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

When using a generator, also use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector. If you have a professionally installed and vented generator system, keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if there are strong winds. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.

Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home, and never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

Signs of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside for fresh air, call 911 or your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, or seek medical care immediately, the CDC said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on carbon monoxide poisoning.


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