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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;33(4):257-63.

Storm-related carbon monoxide poisoning: lessons learned from recent epidemics.

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  • 1Center for Hyperbaric Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center Seattle, Washington, USA.


Over the past 15 years, a number of epidemics of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning related to various storms have been reported. While the geographical location of these outbreaks and the types of storms involved has been diverse, review of the events reveals a number of common factors and themes. This paper summarizes the details of 9 published reports describing CO poisoning associated with 11 different storms. When common patterns were examined, five "lessons to be learned" from the experience were derived. They are (1) loss of electrical power can lead indirectly to carbon monoxide poisoning, (2) campaigns to educate the public about risks for CO exposure should be timed regionally to coincide with the peak risk for typical storms, (3) significant opportunities exist for prevention of generator-related CO poisoning, (4) there is a window of time for effective communications regarding the dangers of CO poisoning even after a storm strikes, and (5) the major sources of CO responsible for poisonings can be related to the type of storm and are predictable. It is hoped that each of these lessons are used to develop public programs designed to prevent storm-associated CO poisoning in the future.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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