CO poisonings rise sharply in Palm Beach Co.

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The Palm Beach County Health Department says it has seen a dramatic spike in cases of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Last year, there were four poisoning cases including two fatalities. This year, so far, there have been 28 cases reported with three fatalities.

The most recent case involved a couple: A 40-year-old man died and his girlfriend was sickened when car exhaust fumes flooded their townhome in suburban Boca Raton last week.

Investigators says it involves one of those vehicles with a push button ignition that make it easier for drivers to forget to turn off their cars.

But the Palm Beach County Health Department says grilling has led to CO poisonings, as well.

"Usually during a hurricane or following a weather disaster, we'll see people using a grill in the house, and we're totally against it becaue of the carbon monoxide that it will emit," said spokesperson Tim O'Connor.

Here are some more tips provided courtesy of the health department:

· Install and use fuel-burning appliances according to manufacturer instructions.

· Have fuel-burning appliances inspected and serviced annually by a licensed contractor.

· Inspect exhaust ventilation systems, including chimneys, flues and vents every year.

· NEVER burn charcoal inside a house, garage, vehicle or tent even in a fireplace.

· Avoid using unvented gas or kerosene heaters in enclosed spaces, especially sleeping areas.

· NEVER leave an automobile running in a garage even with the garage door open.

· Do not leave the rear window or tailgate of a vehicle open while driving. CO from the exhaust can be pulled inside the car, van or camper.

· Install CO alarms inside the house. Purchase battery operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup according to manufacturer's installation instructions.

· The CO alarm should meet the most recent UL 2034 standard, IAS 6-96 standard or the CSA 6.19.01 standard.

· Replace CO alarm batteries once a year and test alarms frequently.

· Replace CO alarms once every five years in accordance with recent recommendations by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

· NEVER use a portable generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas. ALWAYS place portable generators outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to enter.

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