CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — Four people in Clackamas County died over the weekend from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the sheriff’s office. The deaths occurred while tens of thousands of people in the county were without power due to a snow and ice storm that swept through the region.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said in addition to the deaths, first responders have reported several other close calls. Deputies reported six adults in Gladstone got carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator in an enclosed area.
The sheriff’s office said it’s important people don’t use generators inside their homes because of the carbon monoxide danger. Deputies also said people shouldn't use alternative heating sources, including barbecues, camp stoves or cooktops inside their homes.
Improper use of a generator can be hazardous. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people should "never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area."
The CDC also says people should "never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open."
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional immediately.
More than 190,000 Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power customers in the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley remain without power. Officials for the utility companies on Monday warned it could be days before power returns for many customers.
For those without power, PGE offers the following tips:
- Use caution with alternative light and heating sources to avoid unintentional fire from candles, harmful fumes from kerosene heaters used indoors without proper ventilation or deadly carbon monoxide from use of charcoal briquettes indoors.
- Lock in home heat by tacking blankets over windows and doorways to keep the cold out and putting rolled towels at the bottom of doors to keep drafts out.
- Save body heat by wearing loose layers of clothing to trap body heat; wearing a hat, even when sleeping; moving periodically to generate body heat and using blankets and a hot water bottle if feasible.
- If you can safely do so, consider staying with a friend or family member who has power.
- If you’re concerned for yourself, a family member or a neighbor, consider finding another location with power.
- If you need emergency shelter or have other needs related to cold weather, please call 911. For customers whose power is out, please contact PGE if you haven’t already.