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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
September 28, 2005

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Hurricane-Associated Use of Portable Generators—Florida, 2004

JAMA. 2005;294(12):1482-1483. doi:10.1001/jama.294.12.1482

MMWR. 2005;54:697-700

2 figures, 1 table omitted

The four major hurricanes that struck Florida during August 13–September 25, 2004, produced electric power outages in several million homes.1 After the hurricanes, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigated six deaths in Florida attributed to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (CPSC, unpublished data, 2004). The Florida Department of Health and CDC analyzed demographic and CO exposure data from these fatal poisoning cases and from nonfatal poisoning cases among 167 persons treated at 10 hospitals, including two with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) chambers. This report describes the results of that analysis, which determined that misplacement of portable, gasoline-powered generators (e.g., indoors, in garages, or outdoors near windows) was responsible for nearly all of these CO exposures. Public health practitioners should recognize that post-hurricane environments present challenges to the safe operation of portable generators and should educate the public on the hazards of CO poisoning in these settings.

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