FL- The Ledger, The Associated Press
WINTER HAVEN, Fla.
Two men died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after using an emergency generator in their home, and more than 100 people have been hospitalized, as power outages continue to affect tens of thousands of people in central Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley.
Robert Banks, 50, and his 33-year-old stepson Michael Thompson were found in their beds Sunday, authorities said. A borrowed generator was in their garage, out of fuel but with the power switch on, said Polk County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Nelson.
A third person in the home, Banks’ girlfriend, Mala Persaud, 43, was being treated at Winter Haven Hospital.
Just under a million people across the state were without power Sunday after the 145 mph winds of Charley hit Friday. It could be a week or more before all power is restored.
With many relying on generators to keep the power going, people “need to make sure generators are in a totally ventilated area,” said Dr. Carlos J. Ruiz at Florida Hospital Orlando.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which is the No. 1 cause of poisoning in the United States each year.
More than 100 people were treated at Florida Hospital Orlando since Friday night, and another 27 people have been treated in the hyperbaric chamber at Sanford’s Central Florida Regional Hospital. In a hyperbaric chamber, patients breathe pure oxygen in the pressurized compartment, which forces the gas into the blood.
In Volusia County, EVAC ambulance spokesman Mark O’Keefe said one Daytona Beach family woke up with all the symptoms of poisoning, include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting.
“Fortunately, their generator ran out of fuel in the morning hours otherwise they would be dead,” he said. “We’re expecting to see more and more of these patients in the coming days.”