2 hospitalized from carbon monoxide running generator during power outage

Two people had to be rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning on Monday as a result of running a generator during the weekend power outage in Minnesota.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office says deputies responded to the home in Lakeland just after 10:30 a.m. for a welfare check. The caller had reported that the victims had not been heard from since Sunday night and that they had been without power since Saturday.

At the home, the deputy reported smelling exhaust from the open service door in an attached garage and later spotted a running gas-powered generator inside the garage.

Inside the home, deputies found a man and woman, ages 71 and 69, unconscious with an empty propane heater in the living room. Deputies carried the victims outside into the fresh air before they were rushed to the hospital.

The man and the woman remain at the hospital in unknown condition. A deputy at the scene was also treated for carbon monoxide exposure.

"This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of generator safety and necessary precautions when using gas-powered devices," a spokesperson for the Washington County Sheriff's Office writes in a press release. "Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death when inhaled in large amounts. Generators, propane heaters, and other gas-powered warming devices can produce this dangerous gas if not used safely. These devices should always be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas and away from windows, doors, and vents. It is important to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home to alert you of any dangerous levels of gas. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, you should immediately move to fresh air and seek medical attention."

The power outage over the weekend, which followed a snowstorm, impacted about 300,000 customers in Minnesota, with about half experiencing a brief outage. Power was restored to most by Sunday night. Monday afternoon, Xcel announced it had restored power to everyone impacted by the storm.