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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Stay safe in winter weather

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you. Carbon monoxide gas comes from burning fuels such as gasoline, propane, oil, kerosene, natural gas, coal or wood.

Prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide:

  • Only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents
  • Never use a generator or portable propane heater indoors, in garages or carports
  • Never cook or heat inside on a charcoal or gas grill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen suddenly and without warning. 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 re-enter 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

Staying warm indoors safely

If you have a power outage, use safe ways to stay warm:

  • Find places where you can go to get warm, such as the home of friends and family whose homes have power. Many cities have opened centers where people can go during the day to stay warm. Center locations can be found at www.kingcounty.gov/safety/prepare
  • Wear several layers of light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and blankets indoors.
  • Close curtains and cover windows and doors with blankets. Everyone should try to stay together in one room, with the door closed, to keep in body heat.
Stay safe
  • 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.
  • Be careful not to overexert yourself when shoveling snow, especially if you have heart disease or high blood pressure, as the cold weather puts extra strain on your heart.
  • Do not sled on streets or on slopes near streets, ponds, or streams.
  • Avoid driving if you can. If you must drive, allow safe stopping times and distances.
Help others
  • Warn others about carbon monoxide poisoning. Share the information with neighbors, friends, family and community groups.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they are elderly or if you think their power might be out.
  • If you know someone who has lost electricity, invite them to your home to stay warm.
Food safety

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. Keep raw foods separate from 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. Throw away foods that spoil easily (such as meat and fish) if they warm up above 41º F.
  • Frozen foods that remain frozen are OK to eat. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed (such as meat and fish), but are still cold or have ice crystals on them, use them as soon as possible. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed and are warmer than 41º F, throw them away.