14:43 PM

Carbon Monoxide Awareness During Storms

Two significant storms impacted our area recently. Power outages caused by those storms, and subsequent use of power generators and other alternate heat sources, has had an unfortunate effect: an increased number of patients with symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning coming to the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono.

“Prolonged exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get out of the house immediately,” says emergency room physician Robert Wallen, MD, LVH–Pocono.

Important symptoms to know

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, blurry vision, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, weakness, confusion and ultimately loss of consciousness. “If you experience any of those symptoms or your home’s carbon monoxide alarms are activated, you need fresh air. Exit your home and then call 911,” Wallen says.

Preventing CO exposure

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fuel-burning appliances, such as gas-powered generators, or fuel-burning camp stoves, lanterns, gas grills or portable heaters. Never use these items indoors or in unventilated spaces such as a basement or an enclosed garage.

Wallen says your awareness will go a long way to prevent a tragedy. “We know no one wants to experience carbon monoxide poisoning,” he says, “so please follow recommended operating instructions for these appliances as well as remember the signs of CO poisoning to keep you and your family safe.”