CPSC re-ups warning on carbon monoxide amid winter storm | will it snow in florida


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday reminded Americans about the risk of operating certain products indoors as temperatures begin to drop across the country thanks to a massive winter storm. 


What You Need To Know

  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday reminded Americans about the risk of operating certain products indoors as temperatures begin to drop across the country thanks to a massive winter storm
  • The blast of frigid weather began hammering the Pacific Northwest Tuesday morning, and is expected to move to the northern Rockies, then grip the Plains in a deep-freeze and blanket the Midwest with heavy snowfall
  • Should storms knock out electrical power, some individuals might be tempted to turn to portable generators to heat their homes, which the CPSC says can “create a risk of CO poisoning that can kill in minutes” 
  • Carbon monoxide is often referred to as an “invisible killer,” as the potentially deadly fumes – which occur when fuel is burnt in engines, vehicles, stoves, grills, fireplaces and furnaces – are both odorless and colorless

The blast of frigid weather began hammering the Pacific Northwest Tuesday morning, and is expected to move to the northern Rockies, then grip the Plains in a deep-freeze and blanket the Midwest with heavy snowfall, forecasters say. By Friday, the arctic front is forecast to spread bone-chilling cold as far south as Florida.

“It’s going to get very cold this week in parts of the country that are not used to feeling these temperatures. It’s very important that you or your family take the time to prepare,” the CPSC wrote in a statement on Tuesday, warning in particular about the heightened risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the event of power loss. 

Should storms knock out electrical power, some individuals might be tempted to turn to portable generators to heat their homes, which the CPSC says can “create a risk of CO poisoning that can kill in minutes.” The CPSC says portable generators should never be used inside a home, garage, basement or shed, as opening doors and windows cannot rid the atmosphere of sufficient levels of carbon monoxide to make it safe for humans. 

According to a recent CPSC report, around 85 individuals die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisonings attributed to the use of portable generators. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 400 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning not related to fires. 

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as an “invisible killer,” as the potentially deadly fumes – which occur when fuel is burnt in engines, vehicles, stoves, grills, fireplaces and furnaces – are both odorless and colorless. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion and headache.  

To safely operate portable generators, the CPSC advises individuals to operate the machinery at least 20 feet away from a house or other enclosure and to install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms inside and outside of sleeping areas. 

Other dangers during the winter season can come from portable heaters, and officials encourage those using heaters to keep them at least three feet away from beds, clothes, curtains and other flammable objects, and to place the heater on level surfaces where it will not be knocked over. 

The CPSC also issued a separate warning about the dangers of bringing charcoal grills indoors to heat homes. 

 

“When extreme weather happens, people do not always think clearly,” the agency wrote in part. “They’ll run a generator too close to their home or, if they’re desperate enough, use a charcoal grill indoors to stay warm. Generators and grills produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide that can kill in minutes.”

The agency noted that, with some states not used to the cold temperatures set to experience blizzard-like conditions, some individuals might turn to such sources of heating if they have “lost power and they’re desperate.” 

“Check on your family. Check on your neighbors. Make sure people are OK,” the agency wrote. 

Even warm-weather states are preparing for the worst. Texas officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of the February 2021 storm that left millions without power, some for several days. Temperatures were expected to dip to near freezing as far south as central Florida by the weekend.

The drop in temperatures will be precipitous. In Denver, the high on Wednesday will be around 50 degrees; by Thursday, it is forecast to plummet to around zero.

The heaviest snow is expected in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, according to the National Weather Service, and frigid wind will be fierce across the country’s mid-section.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 





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