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US After the hurricane, the dangers are still lurking — inside your home

02:01  14 september  2017
02:01  14 september  2017 Source:   usatoday.com

Powerful Hurricane Irma hits first Caribbean islands

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Three people are dead from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in an Orlando, Florida home . Four others were hospitalized. A portable gas generator was found running inside the home . Millions in Florida are without power after Hurricane Irma. (Sept. 13) AP.

A portable gas generator was found running inside the home . Millions in Florida are without power after Hurricane Irma. "People who are unaware of the dangers of using generators in an enclosed space often underestimate how easily and quickly carbon monoxide poisoning can happen."

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When homeowners survive a beast like Irma, they breathe easy after the brutal winds and gushing storm surge have moved on.

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People gather in large line to enter Home Depot after Hurricane Irma. Miami Herald . Florida Keys An evacuation that worked and saved to clean up and rebuild after hurricane Irma hit the dangers are still lurking inside your .

Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, contaminated water and mold are potential hazards inside your home . FUENTE

But be wary, safety experts say: The post-hurricane period is laced with danger for returning and recovering residents — and the darkest menace may be inside your house.

One person died Wednesday and three were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being used inside a home, Daytona Beach Police said. Two of the injured were being moved to a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Overall in the Hurricane Irma aftermath, at least five people have died and more than a dozen have been treated for breathing carbon monoxide fumes from generators in the Orlando, Miami and Daytona Beach areas.

Authorities have opened a criminal probe into the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Hollywood, Fla., who died of apparent heat-related causes after their facility lost air conditioning. Investigators say they haven't ruled anything out, including carbon monoxide from generators.

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Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, contaminated water and mold are potential hazards inside your home . additional details].

"I would consider carbon monoxide a larger potential hazard at this point," says Mike Bidwell, spokesperson for Neighborly, a home services group. "People who are unaware of the dangers of using generators in an enclosed space often underestimate how easily and quickly carbon monoxide poisoning can happen."

Residents who live on Black Creek in Middleburg, Fla., survey the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Irma. The creek is usually known to rise, but this year has surpassed historic levels rising to about 31 feet.© Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY Residents who live on Black Creek in Middleburg, Fla., survey the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Irma. The creek is usually known to rise, but this year has surpassed historic levels rising to about 31 feet.

During power outages, homeowners often rely on generators for cooling and cooking. But using a generator in an enclosed space such as a garage or camper can have dire consequences for people and pets when the CO builds up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that causes about 400 deaths a year, can quickly lead to a loss of consciousness and death, the CDC says. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness and confusion.

Manager of nursing home where 8 died has been charged before

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More: After the hurricane , the dangers are still lurking — inside your home . Overall, county officials reported eight deaths related to Irma, although the exact causes were not released. Another 40 people were injured during the storm.

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"Please do not use propane inside the house or garage," Daytona Police warned. "Must be 15 feet from home."

Generators should not be run in any type of enclosed structure — even if doors and windows are open, the CDC says — and not less than 20 feet from windows, doors and vents.

Venting for gas appliances such as water heaters could also be compromised from wind damage, which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, Bidwell says.

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Other dangers:

Electric shocks and gas explosions: People entering their flooded home for the first time need to be vigilant, Bidwell says. "If there is standing water in the home, the main switch at the meter should be switched off until the water is out and an electrician can inspect the building," he says. Gas should also be shut off to prevent explosions.

Water contamination: Storm-battered homes are often saturated with unsanitary water, often called "black water," that contains human and animal waste and other harmful bacteria. Residents may need tetanus shots, and furnishings often have to be replaced.

Mold growth: Act fast when it comes to  mold, the Federal Emergency Management Agency advises, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Mold and mildew can start growing within 24 hours after a flood and can seep into spaces large and small from the attic to crawl spaces to the basement.

If you can't clean and dry, then discard, FEMA says — even those beloved toys or family treasures. Items that more easily trap mold: carpeting, wood and upholstered furniture and other porous materials.

For residents of the hardest-hit regions such as the Keys, Bidwell has this advice: "It could be some time before true reparations are able to begin. In the meantime, try to get as much water out of the home or building as possible" but seek professional help. "It will be nearly impossible for a homeowner to detect moisture in discreet locations, which could cause further damage down the line."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Miller on Twitter @susmiller

Hurricane Maria left over 15 dead in Dominica: prime minister .
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