An elderly Greenwich woman is being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning following an incident in her home Thursday and Greenwich Fire Chief Peter Siecienski said it illustrates the safety precautions residents must exercise when using alternative power and heating sources in their homes as they wait for power restoration.
Siecienski said the unidentified Hollow Wood Lane woman was found in a running car that was parked inside the garage of her home on Thursday afternoon. Firefighters had to wear air masks to enter the residence and found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, he said. The woman was taken to the Westchester Medical Center for treatment.
"We've had several incidents with people exhibiting symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning," Siecienski said.
"People are reaching their breaking point, but they need to focus on what they are doing," Siecienski said. "We are seeing practices that are not safe."
Siecienski urged residents not to operate generators inside their homes or garages; to use barbeques indoors; or burn green—or freshly cut, unseasoned—wood. "The green wood is not ignitable ... people end using lighter fluid or gasoline to try to start the fire. And green wood creates sparks," Siecienski said.
(Please see the accompanying video for more of the chief's tips.)
Siecienski also said there have been incidents of residents disposing hot ashes in plastic bags rather than a fireproof metal containers which should be stored a distance away from their homes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
Siecienski said the Hollow Wood Lane incident is under investigation by police.