HOUSTON (February 15, 2021)

Memorial Hermann Health System has seen an increased amount of patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning within the past 24 hours due to the unsafe use of generators or grills. There has also been an increase in burns caused by space heaters.

“If you’re using generators to supply power, the generator needs to remain outside,” said Dr. Samuel Prater, Associate Professor and Executive Vice-Chair of Clinical Affairs with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “Also, under no circumstances should barbeque pits be used inside the home to create warmth.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled. When power outages occur during emergencies such as hurricanes or winter storms, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and poison the people and animals inside.

“If you or a family member is experiencing headache, nausea or muscle aches without fever, it could be carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Dr. Christopher Langan, VP and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. “It’s extremely important to check CO monitors to make sure they are functioning properly. CO rises, so please consider the above floors as well. The best way to stay warm without power is to bundle and layer as if you’re going outside.”

Some additional CO tips from the CDC include:

Space Heater Safety:

In addition, millions of people across Texas are currently without power. If you’re not experiencing a power outage at home, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) urges you to reduce your power use today to help lessen the overwhelming power demand: