Warning to Tornado Survivors - Don't Sleep in Vehicles

People whose homes were heavily damaged or destroyed by recent storms are being urged to stay with friends, family, at a local shelter or in a hotel, and not in their vehicles. State officials have heard reports of people sleeping in their vehicles, which can result in serious health effects or death if carbon monoxide builds up in a running vehicle.

“You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “We want to help people stay safe and healthy as we pick up and rebuild in communities around the state. Do not stay or sleep in your car if your home has been damaged. Instead, take advantage of the shelters and other resources available.”

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned.  People who have lost power and are heating their homes using an appliance that burns fuel should make sure the appliances are working properly and are being used correctly.  Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances.

Symptoms of mild to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning may resemble winter flu and can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and lethargy. Higher levels of exposure can cause fainting, confusion and collapse. If exposure to carbon monoxide continues, death can result.

For more information about disaster recovery resources, visit Ready.Illinois.gov.