If you avoided damage from Sandy and are ready to start preparing for the next storm, the Connecticut Poison Control Center has a suggestion: Get a carbon monoxide detector and extra batteries for it.

Already, three people have been hospitalized with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning this week, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been warning people to take precautions when heating their homes during power outages.

Amy Hanoian-Fontana, a community education specialist with the UConn Health Center-based poison control center, said people should include carbon monoxide, or CO, detectors in their storm preparations.

“From past cases we know that having a CO detector can lower your risk of CO poisoning,” she said in a statement.

The poison center’s experts offered these tips:

• Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector with battery backup, preferably    installed near sleeping areas.

• Don’t use propane or kerosene heaters inside your home.

• Avoid heating your home with a gas oven or stove top.

• Use generators outside and at least 20 feet from your home, and keep them away from doors, windows or air intake vents. Generators were the most likely source of CO poisoning in past storms, according to the poison center.

• Never use generators, charcoal grills, gas grills or other gasoline-powered tools inside or in a garage, carport, basement or other enclosed space, including a covered porch, even if the doors and window are open.

• Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, unclear thinking, shortness of breath, weakness and loss of muscle control. Severe symptoms include convulsions and unconsciousness. It can lead to death. People experiencing symptoms, or whose carbon monoxide alarm goes off should go outside immediately and call 911 or the poison center.

The Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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