Florida officials warn residents about CO risk as hurricane cleanup begins

(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

(WOFL) - The Florida Department of Health in Orange County is urging residents to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

As many Floridians begin the task of cleaning up, the DOH is advising residents to take the proper precautions when using 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.

The DOH recommends the following precautions be taken to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn burn charcoal or gas grills inside homes, garages, or other enclosed spaces.
  • Do not use generators in enclosed spaces or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors or windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up.
  • When using a generator, place the unit outside on a dry surface away from doors, windows, air conditioning units or ventilation that could allow carbon monoxide to get indoors.
  • Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in alarms with a battery back-up in your home. Make sure to test alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.
  • If you begin to experience dizziness, or feel sick or weak while using a generator or grill, get to fresh air immediately. If you think you have been poisoned, call the nearest Florida Poison Information Center at 800-222-1222. Call 911 if someone has collapsed or isn't breathing.

For more information, contact your local county health department or visit FloridaHealth.gov or FloridaDisaster.org.