Ice Storm-Related CO Poisonings Reported in Vt.

Published 12/23 2013 02:09PM

Updated 12/23 2013 02:43PM

FOX44 & ABC22 News
Health officials in Vermont are issuing a warning about an invisible danger.

Multiple cases of of carbon monoxide poisoning have been reported in the Northeast Kingdom, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Thousands of people in this part of the state remained without power Monday due to the ice storm.

Health officials say outages increase the risk of CO poisoning because generators and heat sources, such as propane cooking stoves, are more likely to be used indoors.

The Health Department's Office of Public Health Preparedness is working to notify people in areas impacted by the storm after Emergency Medical Services crews in Newport responded to several calls involving carbon monoxide illnesses.

Health officials say early symptoms of CO poisoning can be confused with flu-like symptoms -headache, dizziness and nausea. Breathing carbon monoxide causes these symptoms even in healthy people. It can also cause sleepiness, vision problems (including blurred vision), ringing in the ears, aching arms and legs, irregular breathing, fatigue and confusion. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death.

Breathing low levels of carbon monoxide over a few hours can be just as dangerous as breathing high levels for a few minutes. If symptoms go away when you leave your home, but come back when you return, there may be a carbon monoxide problem in your home.

Prevent CO poisoning:

Never run a generator indoors. Make sure it's outside, far from where exhaust can vent back in.

Do not use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.

Do not use the kitchen gas stove for heating the apartment or the house.

Do not allow snow or ice to pile up outside a gas appliance vent.

Do not allow engines to idle (run) in a garage that is attached to or beneath the house.

For more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, click here.

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