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Public Health Duty Officer Helpline:

  • 1-866-881-2809
    (Use this number nights and weekends for public health emergencies, including communicable disease reports)

Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Hurricanes can cause power outages that may prompt people to utilize devices which could produce carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is highly poisonous.

Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.

Improper venting and use of a generator or other gasoline-propelled equipment may cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The NYSDOH recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.
  • NEVER use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home.
  • ALWAYS locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.
  • Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.
  • Remember that you cannot see or smell CO, and portable generators can produce high levels of CO very quickly.
  • If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY.
  • If you have a poisoning emergency, call your nearest New York Poison Information Center. Post the phone number in a visible location.
  • If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 immediately.

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