For Immediate Release: October 22, 2005
Contact: DOH Press Office Doc Kokol 850-245-4111
**HURRICANE WILMA INFORMATION SHEET**
Health Officials Warn of Carbon Monoxide Dangers
--Generator safety precautions can help prevent poisoning--
Tallahassee – As Floridians begin the task of preparing for
Hurricane Wilma, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is urging
the public to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) exposure by taking
precautions with gas-powered appliances and charcoal or gas grills.
Carbon monoxide 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 recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon
- 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
- 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
- Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO
alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the
manufacturer’s installation instructions. The CO alarms should
be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards
for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
- Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead
- 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
Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. If the
victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently
announced the availability of 30- and 15-second public service
announcements in English and Spanish. The CDC is encouraging radio
stations to download the public service announcements free from
http://www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm (scroll down to "Public
Service Announcements for Carbon Monoxide"). Other broadcast and
print media can also use the information to alert viewers and
For further information, please contact your local county health
department or visit
The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.
Public Information Emergency Support Function: 850-921-0384.