The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department along with other West Virginia local health departments (LHDs) have been monitoring the impending Winter Storm Jonas. This storm is described as a windy, strong, slow-moving storm that is expected to bring significant heavy snowfall to West Virginia including sleet or freezing rain. During any heavy snow storm, the potential exists for power outages. County Health Departments are reminding residents of the dangers related to winter storms and know what to do if there is a loss of electrical power.
Carbon Monoxide is a serious public health concern during winter storms and can be deadly.
Many residents turn to gasoline generators, gas or charcoal grills and camp stoves when winter storms lead to power outages. These appliances may be harmful or even deadly when used improperly because of carbon monoxide (CO). Never use generators and charcoal or gas grills inside your home, basements, garages, or other enclosed spaces due to the risk of CO poisoning.
CO is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and death if present in sufficient concentration in the ambient air. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and altered mental status. Get fresh air immediately and call 911 if you suspect that you or a family member has COpoisoning.
CO information is available at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.asp
Additional tips preparing for the storm include being aware of family members who are elderly and/or sick. Making sure you have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and sources of heat. Blankets can help, even in poorly heated rooms. In cold weather, wear layers of clothing and a hat, which helps keep inbody heat. Indoor physical activity also raises body temperature.