143 cases of CO poisoning and 5 CO-related deaths reported after last year’s October snowstorm


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              Connecticut Department of Public Health

October 26, 2012                                                                       Contact: William Gerrish

                                                                                                   (860) 509-7270



Hartford – In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is reminding residents of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) associated with the use of portable generators and outdoor grilling devices. 


One year after a rare October snowstorm left over 800,000 Connecticut customers without power, Hurricane Sandy may potentially impact Connecticut early next week. Last year’s storm resulted in one of the largest outbreaks of carbon monoxide poisoning ever seen in the nation, with 143 cases of CO poisoning and five CO-related deaths. Most of the cases were related to the improper use of portable generators and charcoal grills.


“Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real danger when using portable generators. However, it is entirely preventable,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “It’s very important that residents take precautions and properly use portable generators and other combustion devices, like grills and stoves, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.”


Exhaust from portable generators and outdoor grills contain carbon monoxide. Generators and outdoor grills should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, basements, or porches. Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is not sufficient to prevent the buildup of CO in a home. Always run your generator outdoors as far from your home as possible (at least 20 feet) and away from doors, windows, and air intake vents. In addition, CO detectors with battery back-ups should be installed in homes, especially near sleeping areas.


CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal. The symptoms of CO poisoning are the same as the flu, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. If you suspect CO poisoning or your CO detector goes off, get out of the house immediately. Dial 911 from a cellular phone outside of your home or a neighbor’s house.


For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention, visit the DPH Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program at www.ct.gov/dph/co or call (860) 509-7742.


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the Department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.