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Health Officials Issue Warning about CO Poisoning and other Hazards During and After the Approaching Blizzard

February 8, 2013                                                                                

Health Officials Issue Warning about CO Poisoning and other Hazards During and After the Approaching Blizzard

A blizzard warning is in effect for Long Island. Weather conditions will deteriorate throughout the day today and continue into tomorrow afternoon. Concern for the safety and well-being of our residents requires that we recommend the following precautions:


Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a toxic gas that you cannot see or smell. CO is given off whenever fuel or other carbon-based materials are burned. Breathing high levels of it causes CO poisoning, which can cause severe illness or death in just minutes. During or after a winter storm, take the following precautions to avoid CO poisoning.

In the Car

  • Make sure your exhaust pipe is free from snow before starting your vehicle. This includes making sure no snow is packed inside the exhaust pipe.
  • Do not sit in a parked vehicle with the engine running, unless a window is open.
  • Do not leave anyone, especially children or elderly persons, in a parked vehicle with the engine running while shoveling snow.
  • If you have any of the symptoms of CO poisoning (headache, dizziness, nausea, etc.), immediately leave your vehicle and seek fresh air.
  • If you see someone in an idling vehicle who appears to be unconscious, immediately remove the victim from the vehicle into fresh air and call for emergency medical assistance (911).

In the Home

·         Never leave a car running in a garage even with the garage door open.

·         Never run a generator in the home, garage or crawlspace. Opening doors and windows or using fans will NOT prevent CO build-up in the home. When running a generator outdoors, keep it away from open windows and doors.

·         Never burn charcoal in homes, tents, vehicles, or garages.

·         Never install or service combustion appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools.

·         Never use a gas range, oven or dryer for heating.

·         Never put foil on bottom of a gas oven because it interferes with combustion.

  • Never operate an unvented gas-burning appliance in a closed room or in a room in which you are sleeping.
  • Always have a battery or electric powered CO detector to alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home.

Additional Tips for Weathering out the Storm at Home:

·         Have a sufficient supply of food, water, medications, warm clothing and blankets, as well as other supplies necessary to ride out a power outage.

·         If your electricity and heating system are interrupted, to keep pipes from freezing let your water run at a trickle.

·         Bring your pets indoors.


Additional Tips for the Outdoors:

  • Avoid driving.  If you must drive, reduce your speed and try to stay on roads that have been plowed or salted/sanded.  Leave a good amount of distance between your car and the one in front of you.  Try to avoid sudden braking.
  • Dress in layers; wear a warm coat or jacket, hat, mittens and warm insulated boots.
  • Doing chores outside in difficult weather conditions can take a toll on your body.  Be careful to avoid falling; when shoveling or digging out your car, take a break, and where possible, have a hot beverage.  Do not overdo! 
  • Charge your cell phone and keep it with you when you are outside.

Beware of Injury from Fallen Electrical Wires and Bent Trees or Branches

  • Do not touch fallen electrical wires. They may be live and could hurt or kill you.
  • Avoid areas with trees or branches that have gotten bent or caught under another object during a high wind.  They may be suddenly released and strike a person with enough force to cause serious injury or death.
  • Clean up: It is best to have a chain saw operator who has training and experience in safe chain saw use and cutting techniques to fell and remove limbs from trees. The chain saw operator uses personal protective equipment, and workers follow safety guidelines.


Persons with Special Needs

Persons living in Suffolk County with serious medical issues, who would be unable to be evacuated in an emergency should be registered on the Joint Emergency Evacuation Program (JEEP) and Special Needs registry.  An abundance of information on this service is available at

Categories: Health

Suffolk County Government

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