Health officials issue carbon monoxide warning ahead of storm

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New Jersey health officials are reminding New Jersey residents to use the proper precautions while using gas-powered generators in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Utility crews are still working to restore power to thousands of New Jerseyans after a winter storm hit the state last week. Another nor’easter is expected to arrive in New Jersey early Wednesday and additional power outages are expected.

Many who have been without power have resorted to using generators until repairs are made. But generators pose a potentially deadly hazard if not used properly.

MORE: News 12 Weather Center | Active Weather Alerts Power outage information

New Jersey Poison Control Center managing director Bruce Ruck says that carbon monoxide poisonings are more prevalent during bad storms. He says that a generator should be kept at least 15 to 20 feet away from the home and should be kept downwind to ensure fumes do not leak into homes.

Generators should also never be turned on inside of homes.

But Ruck says that generators are not the only source of potential carbon monoxide dangers during a storm.

“Household dryers, where you dry clothes is a potential problem in storm. If the exhaust for it, the pipe coming out of the house, is low to ground and covered in snow and snow blocks it, it's a perfect source for carbon monoxide poisoning,” Ruck says.

Motor vehicles may also pose a carbon monoxide problem during a snowstorm.  Snow may block tailpipes, leading to carbon monoxide build up. This led to the death of a Passaic mother and her two young children two years ago. The family was sitting inside the car with it turned on, while the father cleared away the snow.

Officials say that when shoveling out cars from snow, also shovel out the area around the tailpipe.

Cars should also never sit idle inside of a closed garages.

Officials say that every home should have a carbon monoxide detector to warn of potential dangers. Some signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches and nausea.

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