January 2012 Archives
Main concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning
During power outages, carbon monoxide poisonings can happen when people bring charcoal grills and barbecue units into the home for heat and cooking. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur when generators or propane heaters are used indoors or in areas without sufficient ventilation.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous and odorless gas that cannot be seen or smelled and that can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help.
Newer immigrant and refugee communities may be most at risk due to the use of using charcoal and heating elements indoors to stay warm without proper ventilation.
What you can do
Notify the public about the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in multiple languages:
· Post warning flyers and deliver warning flyers to customers. For downloadable flyers in multiple languages, visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/disaster/carbon-monoxide.aspx
· Post information on your website and social media. Suggested posts:
Winter weather is causing power outages. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they are elderly or if you think their power might be out. Invite them to stay warm at your home if they don't have electricity.
Twitter: Prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide. Never use generators or charcoal or gas grills indoors. More: http://1.usa.gov/yU6TnG .
· Partner with community-based organizations that serve immigrant and refugee families or post multi-lingual information at local community centers, faith-based organizations or visible places to help communicate warnings.
Provide safety information:
· Locations of centers where people can go to stay warm during the day
· Tips for safely staying as warm as possible indoors when the power is out
· Encouragement to check on neighbors, help one another, and share warnings about carbon monoxide
Key Messages to Convey to the Public
Carbon monoxide warnings
Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you. Carbon monoxide gas comes from burning fuels such as gasoline, propane, oil, kerosene, natural gas, coal or wood. You can't see or smell it.
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 reenter the home.
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 http://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.
· 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.
Source: Publich Health - Seattle & King County
Source: Publich Health - Seattle & King County
Key Point: If you think someone may have hypothermia or frostbite they should be referred for medical evaluation.
· Encourage staying inside as much as possible, especially for sleeping
· Remind clients about dressing in layers
· Provide/encourage a hat or head covering- this helps decrease heat loss tremendously
· Provide/encourage mittens ( warmer than gloves) and scarves
· Encourage client to stay dry as possible-outer wear best if water resistant
· Proper foot wear is hard to get in Seattle; people will need boots shoes and socks
Additional ways to help
· Provide clothing as above
· Provide high-energy foods such as energy bars
· Provide hearty soups and stews with high carbohydrate and protein
· Encourage hydration- limit coffee, provide teas, particularly decaf, water, warmed juices, broth
· Alcohol exacerbates heat loss. Does not "warm you up"
· Assist with drying feet, provide dry socks/shoes
Most people who come in from the cold will respond to the following
· Remove wet clothing
· Put on dry clothing
· Provide warm beverages, especially broth, warm Gatorade, juices (helps with restoring electrolytes and hydration)
· If people begin to develop any of the symptoms below they should be referred for medical evaluation
Hypothermia and Frostbite
People at higher risk for hypothermia include persons who:
· Spend a lot of time outside
· Are under-dressed for weather
· Dependent on alcohol
· Use recreational drug users
· Have diabetes
· Are elderly
· Are malnourished
· Are mentally ill
· Have an active infection
· Have mobility problems
The signs and symptoms of hypothermia are similar to those of intoxication:
· Slurred speech
· Trouble with coordination
· Slowed response time
· They are also likely to be shivering
· Frost bitten areas may look dusky, dark
· Immersion foot may look waxy, blanched, grayish /whitish
· May feel numb or prickly to the person.
· These conditions require quick medical evaluation.
If signs of either of these are present, these folks should be referred for medical evaluation
While they are waiting to be transferred provide:
· Warm, dry clothing/covering
· Warm, not hot, liquids
· Avoid direct exposure to heaters or attempts to rapidly warm the person up as this can make things worse.
Source: Public Health - Seattle & King County