[abstract] DYING TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES: CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM ELECTRICAL GENERATORS FOLLOWING HURRICANE IKE

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[abstract] DYING TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES: CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM ELECTRICAL GENERATORS FOLLOWING HURRICANE IKE

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Title: [abstract] DYING TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES: CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM ELECTRICAL GENERATORS FOLLOWING HURRICANE IKE
Author: Smith, L; Maus, E; Fife, C; McCarthy, J; Koehler, M; Hawkins, T; Hampson, N
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is common following major storms, due to loss of electrical power and use of alternate fuel sources for heat and electricity. In past epidemics of hurricane-related CO poisoning, the source has typically been gasoline-powered electrical generators. While it is typically believed that generators were used to power air conditioning and refrigeration, this report demonstrates an unsuspected reason for their use. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Following Hurricane Ikes landfall in September 2008, major power outages were associated with an epidemic of CO poisoning from electrical generators, as expected. Staff at Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center (MHH-TMC) treated or phone-triaged cases from the Houston area and asked the reason for the use of generators. RESULTS: MHH-TMC staff treated or triaged 37 individuals exposed to CO from gasoline-powered electrical generators in 13 incidents in the first 36 hours following landfall of the hurricane. Notably 54% (20/37) of the patients were under the age of 18. Symptoms ranged from mild to severe, with one child dying at the scene. Eleven patients were treated with hyperbaric oxygen. Among 9 incidents in which the reason for generator use was determined, 5 were due to generators powering video games or televisions to watch movies or programs. These 5 incidents in which videogames were being powered accounted for 75% (15/20) of the pediatric poisonings. CONCLUSIONS: Generator-related CO poisoning is indeed common during power outages following hurricanes. However, generators are commonly being used to provide electricity to power entertainment devices for children, such as video games. Warning text messages regarding CO were sent out via cell phones during the storm. Additional public education about CO risk is needed, perhaps directed at older children and teens through the schools in regions susceptible to hurricanes.
Description: Abstract of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. Annual Scientific Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. (http://www.uhms.org)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9155
Date: 2009

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  • UHMS Meeting Abstracts
    This is a collection of the published abstracts from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) annual meetings.

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