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Hurricane Prep 2023

Carbon Monoxide Dangers: Safety precautions can help prevent poisoning


As Floridians begin the task of preparing for Idalia, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) is urging the public to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) exposure by taking precautions with gas-powered appliances and charcoal or gas grills.

CO is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and 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.

DOH-Orange recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn charcoal in a fireplace or use charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • 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 keep running portable generators or gasoline engines (such as pressure washers and vehicles) outside, more than 20 feet away from open windows, doors, window air conditioners or exhaust vents that could allow CO to come indoors. Follow the instructions that come with your equipment.
  • Install, per the manufacturer’s installation instructions, battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup in your home. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, ASTM D6332 or CSA 6.19.01).
  • Test your CO alarms per the manufacturer’s recommendations and replace dead batteries.
  • Remember you cannot see or smell CO. Portable generators can produce high levels of CO very quickly. 

If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator or other gas-powered equipment, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY.

If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safe location such as outside or from a neighbor’s home. Call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222 for additional information and advice about CO poisoning.

For further information, please get in touch with your local county health department or visit www.floridahealth.gov or www.FloridaDisaster.org.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

DOH-Orange, Department of Health in Orange County, Hurricane Prep 2023, Carbon Monoxide