Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages

Every year, more than 400 people die in the U. S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a Crow Wing County news release that suggested ways to avoid becoming a victim.

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Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service
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BRAINERD — Crow Wing County law enforcement and fire officials are reminding area residents of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when without power, especially during frigid temperatures.

When power is out, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling or cooking can cause carbon monoxide to build up in a home, garage, or camper. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.

While preventable, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Snowstorms and heavy storms that cause power outages can increase the number of reported carbon monoxide exposures, according to a news release.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

People who are exposed to high carbon monoxide levels while sleeping or after drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before ever having symptoms. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away or call 911.


Crow Wing County officials offer these tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Use a power generator safely.
  • Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Keep generators far away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. These should only be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
  • Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home and do not run a car in a closed garage.
  • Do not overload the power generator.
  • Before refueling, turn off a gas-powered generator and let it cool. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine can ignite. Allowing the engine to cool also reduces the risk of burns while refueling.
  • Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with a battery backup.
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