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UnityPoint Health providers are issuing a warning about the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to the use of generators. Since Monday, portable generators are being used to provide power following Monday’s derecho. Extremely high winds destroyed power lines and knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Iowa and Illinois.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), portable generators should never be used inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.
It’s also important to have and use battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home. Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.
If you experience CO symptoms, seek immediate medical care, call 911 or the Iowa Poison Control Center at 800.222.1222.