Growing Reports of CO Poisoning Prompt Emergency Physicians To Urge Caution Among Hurricane Irma Victims When Using Portable Generators - Sep 15, 2017

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Growing Reports of CO Poisoning Prompt Emergency Physicians To Urge Caution Among Hurricane Irma Victims When Using Portable Generators
Sep 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Millions of Floridians are still without power following Hurricane Irma, and it could take several weeks to get everyone back online. With growing reports of carbon monoxide poisoning (CO) from people using portable generators at their homes, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the Florida College of Emergency Physicians (FCEP) are urging extreme caution, because improper use can result in CO poisoning.

ACEP Logo. (PRNewsFoto/American College of Emergency Physicians) (PRNewsfoto/ACEP)

"There have been 74 cases of CO poisoning in the past 2 days," said Becky Parker, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. "Please do not set up a generator in an enclosed area, such as your patio or garage. By doing so, you are letting a poisonous, odorless and colorless gas into your home, putting your life at risk."

Just this week, a group of 20 people (13 of them children) in Southwest Florida, which was heavily affected by Irma, were transported to a hospital for treatment after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide. It's believed that a generator was left running inside the family's home.

"The growing reports of CO poisoning cases in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma are concerning, prompting emergency physicians to urge Floridians to use caution when operating a generator," said Joel Stern, MD, FACEP, president of FCEP. "Whether it is your first time or not in using a generator, people must make sure to read the instruction manual carefully to know how to properly use it and fully understand the risks associated with them."

If you're unsure of how to hook your generator up and operate it properly, check with your local fire department. Also, to avoid being electrocuted, always keep your generator dry and never run it in the rain.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion

CO poisoning is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses, such as the flu. People should be concerned about the possible presence of carbon monoxide if more than one person living or working together develops these symptoms simultaneously over a short period of time.

Of course, we always urge people to call 911 if they feel they may be experiencing an emergency.

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, please go to

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.


SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

For further information: Mike Baldyga, 202-370-9288,,