Four people have died and a dog was killed in three separate carbon monoxide poisonings in Clackamas County this week.
Investigators said the accidental deaths came after one man attempted to gain heat from a charcoal briquettes fire inside his home, other incidents involved propane heaters.
Medical experts with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said winter storm-related power outages and loss of electricity have some Oregonians using alternate heating sources, many of which come with the added risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas produced when anything is burned. Gas and oil furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces as well as wood burning and gas stoves are common sources in the home.
If used inappropriately, items that emit heat can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and death. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, seek fresh air and consult a health care professional right away.
The only way to know if you are being exposed to carbon monoxide is by using a detector.
The OHA urges people to follow these important steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Use caution with kerosene or gas space heaters; use vented space heaters whenever possible and make sure they are clean and inspected.
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
- Check exterior exhaust vents to be sure they are clear of snow, ice and fallen debris.
- Do not use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors.
- Never run a portable generator or any gas-powered engine in a basement, garage or other enclosed area, even if doors and windows are open.
For more information about carbon monoxide safety, visit the Oregon Health Authority website.