At least one person in Newfoundland has died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning since Saturday's widespread power outage, and eight others have fallen ill, according to Eastern Health.
In a news release on Monday, Eastern Health said nine people have come to its emergency departments with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning since Saturday, and one of them has died.
"We've had a huge increase in carbon monoxide cases, compared to what we would normally see," said Dr. Ken LeDez, a physician with Eastern Health who treated four of the patients.
"The typical situation that we saw was people were running a generator, say, left it going for a while, went out to check it and refuel it, went in there, and within a very few minutes, [became] overcome and collapsed," said LeDez.
Eastern Health officials have urged people to be mindful of the sources of carbon monoxide poisoning, and be aware of its symptoms.
They said most carbon monoxide poisoning is a result of exposure to engine exhaust, often from running a snow blower, generator, car, or propane appliance, which are often used during storms and power outages.
'Carbon monoxide has no odor and can kill you very quickly.' - Dr. Ken LeDez
"Never run a generator or a snowmobile indoors, even in a shed that might seem kind of drafty with the doors open," said LeDez. He said that advice applies to all engines.
"Carbon monoxide has no odor and can kill you very quickly."
LeDez said carbon monoxide can kill people within as short a time as two to three minutes, and pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.
Know the symptoms, says Eastern Health
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses.
Symptoms of exposure may include nausea and headaches. More severe poisoning may cause vomiting, dizziness, slowed thinking, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, collapse, or cardiac arrest.
Eastern Health said when more than one person experiences these symptoms at the same time, carbon monoxide poisoning is likely the cause.
Eastern Health said it encourages people to install carbon monoxide alarms in their homes. If an alarm sounds or the presence of carbon monoxide is suspected, move everyone in the house to a a fresh air location outdoors or near an open window or door, and call emergency services.
If a family member or friend had not returned promptly or is unwell after working with an engine in a shed or garage, Eastern Health recommended people call emergency services immediately.
The health board added that anyone experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should seek medical attention at their nearest emergency department.