Four people have died and 141 have been hospitalised from carbon monoxide poisonings in Louisiana, where people have been forced to use stand-by generators amid ongoing power outages following devastation from Hurricane Ida.
The Louisiana Department of Health announced the deaths and hospitalisations on Monday, and said those using generators should follow a number of health and safety measures to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Among the recommendations from the Office of the State Fire Marshal were to place generators 20 feet away from homes, and for a carbon monoxide detector to be set up.
The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, which the health department compared to being “flu like”.
“If you breathe in a lot of carbon monoxide it can make you pass out or kill you,” the announcement explained. “People who are sleeping or drunk can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they have symptoms.”
It follows the ongoing restoration of power to homes in Louisiana and Mississippi, where more than 1m people were left without electricity from Hurricane Ida last week. Many homes remain flooded.
The Category 4 hurricane hit swathes of the southern and eastern US, and led to the deaths of 13 individuals in Louisiana – five of whom were nursing home residents who were evacuated to an alleged safe space, which was hit by Ida.
After being downgraded, the hurricane – which was the fifth strongest storm to ever make landfall in the US – flooded parts of New York and New Jersey, which saw record-breaking rain.
More than 400,000 people continue to go without power a week after Ida, according to poweroutage.us. It could take weeks for power to be fully restored.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.