Weekend storm may bring power outages: Stay safe and avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
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Friday, December 19, 2008
KING COUNTY, WA - High winds forecast this weekend may lead to power outages in some parts of King County. Given the cold temperatures, Public Health advises all residents to take steps to stay safe and warm and especially to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We can't predict which neighborhoods if any may lose power, so we want to encourage all residents of King County to have a plan about how to stay warm and safe during adverse weather," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County. "If possible today, stock up on supplies you may need during the weekend and think about how you will stay warm and safe during a possible outage."
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by never using a gas or charcoal grill, hibachi, or portable propane heater to cook indoors or heat your home. Carbon monoxide gas comes from burning fuels such as gasoline, propane, oil, kerosene, natural gas, coal or wood and can cause injury or death.
- During a power outage or at any other time, do not operate fuel-powered machinery such as a generator indoors, including the garage
- Do not cook or heat with charcoal barbeques inside your home
- Avoid combustion "space heaters" unless there is an exhaust vent
Carbon monoxide poisoning can strike suddenly and without warning. In some cases, physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include splitting headache, nausea and vomiting, and lethargy and fatigue. If you believe you could be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Call for medical help from a neighbor's home. The Fire Department will tell you when it is safe to reenter the home.
For a full list of carbon monoxide prevention tips and other safety and disaster information in English and other languages, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/disaster.
Stay warm and safe
- Make sure you are wearing enough warm clothing before going outdoors. Wind speed can create dangerously cold conditions even when the temperature is not that low.
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so wear a warm, woolen hat. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.
- If you think power will be out for several days, check with your city for location of warming shelters.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia-slurred speech, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness and body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Get medical help immediately if you think someone has frostbite or hypothermia.
- Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.
- Check on elderly friends, family, and neighbors to make sure they are safe.
- Watch your footing on surfaces that may be icy and slick, and wear shoes that provide traction.
If power goes out where you live, keep food safe
- Keep the doors closed on your refrigerators and freezers as much as possible. This keeps the cold air inside. A full freezer can stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about 1 day.
- If you think the power will be out for several days, try to find some ice to pack inside your refrigerator. Remember to keep your raw foods separate from your ready-to-eat foods.
- Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and the refrigerator/freezer doors have been kept closed. Potentially hazardous foods, such as meat and fish, should be discarded if they warm up above 41º F.
- Frozen foods that remain frozen are not a risk. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed, but are still cold or have ice crystals on them, you should use them as soon as possible. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed and are warmer than 41º F, you should discard them.
Dialysis patients with questions about their care during an emergency can refer to the Northwest Kidney Center's Web site at www.nwkidney.org, or the emergency information hotline at 206-292-3001.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.