During power outages people should not use alternative energy sources to stay warm. Many alternative energy sources create carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible, odorless, colorless gas that can cause breathing difficulty, headaches, nausea and even lead to death.
"Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it cannot be seen or smelled," said Jon Olson, Wake County Emergency Operation Center Operations Section Chief. "People should take precautions to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to themselves and their families and should never use alternative heating sources or cooking equipment to stay warm."
To avoid CO poisoning during a power outage:
"People can protect themselves against CO poisoning by installing CO alarms in their houses and testing regularly," said Olson. "They can also protect themselves with the proper installation, use, venting and maintenance of household cooking and heating equipment. If the CO alarm goes off, leave the house immediately; leave doors open and call 911 for assistance. Request immediate medical attention if anyone shows signs or symptoms of exposure."
For more information on CO poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
- Never operate a charcoal or gas grill inside your home, even in a garage.
- Never leave a vehicle engine running while it is in the garage. If you need to warm up your vehicle, remove it from the garage after starting it. Raising the garage door is not sufficient ventilation to discharge the carbon monoxide.
- When operating a generator, follow the manufacturer's instructions completely. Operate it outside your home away from the structure or openings.
- Never fuel a generator when it is operating.
- Connect appliances and other devices directly to the generator.
- If the generator is wired directly into your home's electrical system, ensure it has been properly installed and inspected before use.