AUGUSTA — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Mainers to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

About 75 percent of all reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs between November and March, mostly caused by home heating appliances that aren’t working properly or that have blocked vents, according to the state.

In appliances that aren’t properly maintained or vented, carbon monoxide can quickly build up inside a home without occupants noticing. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and can be deadly.

Portable gas-powered generators can also cause severe carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths when used improperly. One portable generator can produce as much carbon monoxide as 100 idling cars, and can increase the chance of getting carbon monoxide poisoning by 20- to 300-fold when run in a basement or garage.

Those with portable generators should have an extension cord long enough to make sure the generator can be run outside, at least 15 feet from windows or doors, and a plan for keeping the generator protected from rain, ice and snow. Making a plan now can help residents avoid the temptation to run a generator inside a basement, garage or cellar bulkhead during a storm.

“We are also highly concerned about people who leave motors running while they work on them in garages or in buildings. This is extremely dangerous, even if windows or doors are open,” said Dr. Christopher Pezzullo, Maine Department of Health and Human Services state health officer.

If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, those in the house should get our right away and call 911. Those who suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseous should seek immediate medical attention.


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