High winds and power outages across the region are common occurrences in Washington. Power outages usually result in the use of generators and alternative indoor heating methods. This can potentially lead to harmful exposures of carbon monoxide gas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that, when one is exposed, can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or even death.
If your home loses power, here are a few tips to prevent exposure:
- Generators run on gasoline and release carbon monoxide. If you use a generator to restore power, only run the generator outside and away from windows and doors so that the fumes do not enter your home.
- Never use charcoal or gas grills indoors as heat sources. The fumes they produce also contain carbon monoxide. If your kitchen has a gas powered stove, do not use the stove to burn or heat things for warmth.
- It is safe to use your home’s wood-burning fireplace to create a fire for warmth, so long as it is in proper working condition and the flue is open. If you do not regularly use your fireplace and have not had it checked and cleaned by a professional this year, do not use it.
- Do not run your car inside your garage. The fumes become trapped indoors and can even travel from your garage into the rest of your home. If it is cold and you need a place to warm up, consider relocating to a shelter or to a friend’s home.
If you are concerned about a possible exposure to carbon monoxide, call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. For more information click here to see our Seasonal Health Alert on CO.
For more information on how to stay safe and healthy when the power goes out, check out this information from Public Health-Seattle King County.