[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 17, 1993

Unintentional Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Following Winter Storm—Washington, January 1993

JAMA. 1993;269(11):1372-1373. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500110036016

MMWR. 1993;42:109-111 (1 figure omitted)

CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) poisoning was a major health consequence of a severe storm that struck the Puget Sound region of western Washington state the morning of January 20, 1993. Wind gusts up to 94 miles per hour interrupted electrical power for an estimated 776 000 residents, and during the 4 nights following the storm, temperatures fell to near freezing.

Because of the use of alternative sources of energy for indoor cooking and home heating, the risk of exposure to CO increased for many persons. This report summarizes cases of storm-related CO poisoning among persons who were initially evaluated at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center (HMC) or who were referred to the Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC) for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

All patient data were extracted from medical records. A case of CO poisoning was defined as an arterial carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) level of ≥2% (for nonsmokers) or