LAFAYETTE, La. — As the cold weather continues across Acadiana, many people are trying to stay warm by lighting their fireplaces.
Others are preparing for possible power outage by gassing up their generators, but residents must be aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, most commonly caused by no ventilation for the harmful gas to escape.
Sheletta Brundidge lost five of her family members during the aftermath of Hurricane Laura due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
"They had a generator inside of an attached garage," Brundidge tells us. "A strong wind came through and blew the garage door closed, trapping the fumes inside."
Brundidge is now an activist trying to prevent accidents like this from occurring in other homes.
"This gas is odorless, you cannot smell it. It's colorless, you're not going to see anything, and you can't taste it," Brundidge says. "It's not going to do anything but sneak up on you and kill you."
The Lafayette Fire Department encourages residents to follow these tips when lighting their fireplace tonight and throughout the week.
"Make sure you have your flue open," says Alton Trahan, Public Information Officer for the Lafayette Fire Department. "Also... make sure it is free of debris and has been inspected and cleaned."
If residents are faced with power outage, Trahan advises to keep your generator twenty feet away from your home, outside, with the engine exhaust facing away from any doors or windows leading into your home.
Brundidge also encourages residents using their generators to carefully look over the instructions, even if they are familiar with how one works.
"You know we use them all the time so we don't even think about it, but just take a minute, for me and my family," she says. "Take one moment and stop, and let's just read the instructions one more time...let's go over how to set it up properly just one more time."
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
If you begin to feel any of these symptoms and have gas appliances or a wood burning fireplace, vent your home, step outside and call 911 immediately.
"This thing about Carbon Monoxide poisoning, it's real," says Brundidge. "They say, well it only kills 430 people a year, but when it's one of your family members... that's one too many."
Brundidge also encourages everyone to purchase a Carbon Monoxide detector for your homes if you don't already have one. These can be found at a local hardware store such as Lowes or Home Depot.
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