Due to the recent high winds in the area, portions of Barry and Eaton counties are without electrical power at this time. Here are some important safety tips about carbon monoxide poisoning, food safety, and water safety to remember during a power outage:
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled. When power outages occur, the use of other sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO. Every year, more than 500 people die in the United States from accidental CO poisoning.
To prevent CO poisoning, generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper – or outside near an open window.
Every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked each month. CO detectors should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO detectors should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area.
Food Safety for Your Home
If the power was out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow these guidelines:
• For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours (1 day). A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours (2 days). Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
• For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and leftovers that could spoil into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive
Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
• Use a digital quick-response thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safe Drinking Water for Your Home
When the power goes out, make sure you are using safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, which could include bottled, boiled, or treated water.
• Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands.
• If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
More information about power outage safety tips from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services can be found online at http://bit.ly/2lI1NNQ or at www.michigan.gov/michiganprepares. Questions about carbon monoxide and food and water safety can also be directed to the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (269) 945-9516 ext. 35 in Barry County or (517) 541-2615 in Eaton County.