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When the Lights Go Out

Categories: Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Severe Weather

Protect yourself from CO poisoning during summer storms

lightning

Summer weather brings with it the threat of thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Heavy rain, lightning and high winds can knock out electric power for a few minutes to several days.

When power outages occur after severe weather (such as hurricanes or tornadoes), using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside.

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from CO poisoning.

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