For Immediate Release December 4, 2007
Contact: William Gerrish (860) 509-7270
Governor M. Jodi Rell today and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) warned residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning associated with malfunctioning heating systems, blocked chimneys and the improper use of portable gasoline-powered generators.
Recently, eight people in a multi-family home were treated for symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning. All are now in stable condition. In a separate incident, a Hartford resident died from carbon monoxide poisoning after running a gasoline-powered portable generator inside the apartment because the residence was without electricity.
“The recent incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning demonstrate how important it is that residents be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide,” Governor Rell said. “These preventable cases point out the seriousness of hazards associated with carbon monoxide and why homes should have operating carbon monoxide detectors.”
Residents should have their appliances and heating systems checked annually to ensure that there is adequate ventilation and CO is not building in their homes. Exhaust from portable generators contains carbon monoxide and generators should NEVER be used indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, basements, or porches. ALWAYS run the generator OUTDOORS as far from the house as possible, away from doors, windows, and air intake vents. In addition, CO detectors should be installed in homes, especially near sleeping areas.
“Proper placement of the generator is critical," said DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. “A generator located in any enclosed space can kill you. While generators can be very useful during a power outage, it is important that people are aware of how dangerous these generators can be and the proper ways to use them.”
In addition, a licensed electrician should properly wire and connect home-use generators. You may also need a town permit or official inspection for the generator. Before using a portable generator, you must disconnect your home’s electric wiring from the power grid. Otherwise, power from the generator can go out over the utility lines, endangering the lives of workers making repairs.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) have developed a new warning label for portable generators.
CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal. The symptoms of CO poisoning mimic those of the flu, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. If several members of a household experience these symptoms when they are home, but feel better when they are away from the home, there may be a CO problem.
Every home in which a portable generator is operating, or that burns oil, natural gas, wood or coal, should have a carbon monoxide detector that is in good, working order. If the alarm goes off, get out of the house immediately. Call 911 or the town fire department from a cellular phone or neighbor’s house.
DPH offers safety tips to prevent CO poisoning when using gasoline generators and other gasoline-powered equipment.
Safety Tips to Prevent CO Poisoning
- Never use portable generators, pressure washer engines, or other gasoline-powered equipment (including tools) inside your home, garage, carport, basement or other enclosed spaces.
- Place gasoline-powered equipment outside and away from doors, windows or air intake vents.
- Install a CO detector on each floor of your residence near sleeping areas. A UL certified plug-in detector with battery-backup and a digital readout is recommended. Test alarms monthly. Change the battery at least twice a year. Replace alarms every 5 years because the sensors degrade over time.
- Use grilling apparatus such as charcoal or gas grills outdoors only.
**Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is not sufficient to prevent buildup of CO in a home.
- Get out of the house and seek medical help immediately if you or a family member has symptoms of CO poisoning. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
- Call 911 from a cellular phone or neighbor’s home and the Connecticut Poison Control Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center (1-800-222-1222).
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention:
- DPH Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
For more information on carbon monoxide detectors:
- Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.