At least one person has died and nearly a dozen others have been hospitalized in two separate carbon monoxide poisoning emergencies in New Orleans, La., a city official told Forbes, as residents turn to unsafe power sources amid widespread power outages following Hurricane Ida.
A total of 12 people, including seven children, were rushed to “multiple hospitals across the city” early Wednesday with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, Jonathan Fourcade, a New Orleans Emergency Medical Services spokesperson told Forbes.
“This was a portable generator related carbon monoxide poisoning,” New Orleans EMS said in a tweet, as The New Orleans Advocate reported the group were “members of a family … riding out the aftermath of Hurricane Ida” in a residence in Gert Town, New Orleans.
Fourcade said he does not have updates on the 12 people hospitalized, but six of them were in critical condition when picked up by paramedics (he could not specify how many were children).
Fourcade said the city “also had a separate carbon monoxide emergency we responded to” on Tuesday which resulted in the death of an “adult male.”
He said he did not immediately have any more details on the Tuesday incident.
These carbon monoxide poisoning cases come after another nine people were hospitalized in St. Tammany Parish, after improper use of a generator Tuesday night. With most of the city still without power and almost statewide, some are turning to alternate power supplies like backup generators to keep lights and appliances working. However, electric generators and other homemade power sources can be dangerous in confined spaces, resulting in the production of carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas.
“We’re just encouraging people to use generators outdoors,” Fourcade said. “Also, don’t run them in your garage or your car port if it uses the same roof as your home.”
What To Watch For
It is common for cases of carbon monoxide poisoning to jump amid extended blackouts, Dr. Neil Hampson, a retired doctor who has studied the problem for decades, told Forbes. “The longer the power outage, the more certain we will have carbon monoxide poisonings,” he said, noting that the first cases will come “two to four days” after the blackout.