Preventing Poisonings After a Hurricane
After a hurricane or other natural disaster, poison control centers traditionally experience an increase in poisoning calls. Below are some of the most common poisonings after a hurricane and tips to help keep your family safe.
Remember, Florida’s Poison Control Centers are available 24 hours a day, even during a storm, at 1-800-222-1222.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is preventable, but it is the most common cause of hospitalization and death from a poisoning following a hurricane. These incidents typically occur in the first few hours to days after the storm.
Carbon monoxide is a non-irritating, odorless, colorless gas present in the exhaust/smoke from:
Carbon monoxide is called a “silent killer” because it has no odor and people may dismiss the symptoms as the flu or other illnesses.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include:
When people use generators improperly – indoors, too close to homes, in garages, or outside bedroom windows – carbon monoxide can seep in and sicken or kill. Never use generators inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open.
Here are a few safety tips for using portable generators safely:
Additionally, never use an outdoor grill (gas, charcoal, or wood) inside the house or garage, as carbon monoxide may be generated.
When in doubt, throw it out!
Regarding water safety, don’t store water in jugs previously containing or made for chemicals, or containers previously used for non-edible products. The chemicals can leach into the water. It is best to use food-grade containers only, such as empty water or milk jugs. Never drink bottled water that was submerged in floodwater.
Call 1-800-222-1222 if you experience any symptoms of food poisoning to talk to a poison specialist 24/7.
Medication errors are also a concern following a hurricane. Power outages may mean difficulty reading prescription labels and lack of refrigeration for certain medicines. Floodwaters can destroy medication as well.
Here are a few tips of what to do before and after a storm to avoid medication mistakes.
Before a storm:
During a power outage:
Here are a few tips regarding using chemicals and/or cleaning products:
Following a hurricane, be extra cautious while cleaning up or moving debris. Animals can be displaced during a storm and may seek refuge in debris piles. You may also find snakes, bugs, or spiders in homes, yards, and pools after a storm. Stormwaters may carry or harbor venomous snakes flushed from their normal habitat.
When cleaning up debris, wear protective clothing, including:
For any bite or sting of any kind, call us at 1-800-222-1222 for help.