Louisiana Department of Health confirms two additional winter storm-related deaths

A heavy snow forecast is expected to blanket parts of the Quad Cities and TV6 viewing area...
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Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:03 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 4:22 PM CST
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The following was released to us by LDH:

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Health on Wednesday has confirmed two additional deaths tied to the February 2021 winter storm, bringing the statewide death toll to three.

A 74-year-old Lafayette Parish woman was found to have died of exposure. A 77-year-old Calcasieu Parish man died after he slipped and fell into a pool where he drowned. These deaths have been confirmed by coroners to be storm-related. Below are details on the 3 deaths LDH has confirmed to date:

  • 50-year-old male, Lafayette Parish, slipped on ice and struck head on ground
  • 74-year-old female, Lafayette Parish, exposure
  • 77-year-old male, Calcasieu Parish, slipped into pool and drowned

Louisiana is experiencing extreme winter weather that may cause widespread power outages. Because of these outages, many people will turn to individual, gas-powered generators to power their homes. However, it is important that anyone choosing to use a generator do so safely. Using a generator safely is a matter of life and death and many people are killed or hospitalized due to improper and unsafe use of generators. The Louisiana Department of Health urges residents to read all instructions accompanying their generator and to follow these safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Portable generators should never be used indoors. This includes use inside a garage, carport, basement, crawl space, or other enclosed or partially enclosed area, even those with ventilation.
  • Gas-powered generators produce an exhaust of carbon monoxide (CO), which is odorless and colorless. CO inhalation can rapidly lead to full incapacitation or death. Opening windows or doors or using fans will not prevent the build-up of CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air IMMEDIATELY. Be sure to place the generator away from doors, windows and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Use a carbon monoxide alarm in your home, either battery-operated or plug-in with battery back-up. If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. Test the battery frequently and replace when needed.
  • Do not use gas or electric ovens for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, and electric ovens are not designed for space heating.

Take the following precautions to prevent electrocution:

  • Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rain or wet conditions.
  • Protect the generator from moisture by operating it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as a tarp held up on poles. Always ensure that your hands are dry before touching a generator.
  • Turn off the generator and let it cool before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite. Fuel for generators should be stored in an approved safety can.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord. The extension cord should be rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Check that the entire cord is free of cuts or tears and that the cord has all three prongs, and especially a grounding pin.
  • Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. It’s extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household protection devices.

Be careful with your fuel:

  • Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the generator’s label. Local laws may restrict the amount of fuel you may store, or the storage location.
  • Fuel should be stored outside of living areas in a locked shed or other protected area away from fuel-burning appliances, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
  • If the fuel is spilled or the container is not properly sealed, invisible vapors from the fuel can travel along the ground or can be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.

Always practice proper care and safety when using a generator. If you have questions about the operation of your generator, consult your owner’s manual or call the manufacturer. If you think you or someone else has been exposed to carbon monoxide, move the person into fresh air and call your doctor or healthcare provider. If someone has been electrocuted, call 911 for emergency care instructions.

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Copyright 2021 Louisiana Department of Health. All rights reserved.