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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009 Aug 14;58(31):845-9.

Carbon monoxide exposures after hurricane Ike - Texas, September 2008.


During power outages after hurricanes, survivors can be at risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if they use portable generators improperly. On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike struck the coast of Texas, leaving approximately 2.3 million households in the southeastern portion of the state without electricity. Six days later, 1.3 million homes were still without electrical power. To assess the impact of storm-related CO exposures and to enhance prevention efforts, CDC analyzed data from five disparate surveillance sources on CO exposures reported during September 13--26 in counties of southeast Texas that were declared disaster areas by the federal government. This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that one data source, Texas poison centers, received reports of 54 persons with storm-related CO exposures during the surveillance period. Another data source, the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) hyperbaric oxygen treatment database, reported that 15 persons received hyperbaric oxygen treatment for storm-related CO poisoning. Medical examiners, public health officials, and hospitals in Texas reported that seven persons died from storm-related CO poisoning. Among the data sources, the percentage of reported storm-related CO exposures caused by improper generator use ranged from 82% to 87%. These findings underscore the need for effective prevention messages during storm preparation, warnings, and response periods regarding the correct use of generators and the installation and maintenance of battery-powered CO detectors.

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