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The following press release was issued by the Kentucky Poison Control Center:
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2009) – The high number of power outages has caused many Kentuckians to resort to using alternative heat sources to heat their homes, increasing the possibility for exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. In the last 72 hours, the Kentucky Poison Control Center has received 95 calls to its hotline seeking information on carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Poison Center Director Henry Spiller.
There have been several reports of possible deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and the Poison Center is aware of at least forty Kentuckians who have received treatment at hospitals.
“This is all because of the storm,” said Spiller. “People are using alternative heat sources, which are not always safe. Carbon monoxide poisoning can obviously have extremely serious consequences.”
Items such as portable generators, propane gas stoves, ovens heated with gasoline all have been used as heat sources indoors, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Spiller, along with officials from the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), advise taking steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning following guidelines from the National Center for Environmental Health:
− Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window.
− Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
− Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t properly vented.
− Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
− Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Early symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Carbon monoxide poisoning is treatable.
− Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall for daylight savings time. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly and should be taken seriously,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “We urge Kentuckians to take steps to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide and avoid heating sources, such as propane heaters and charcoal grills, while indoors. It can be a matter of life or death.”
If you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or if you have questions, call the Poison Control hot line at (800) 222-1222.
More information about carbon monoxide poisoning can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm.