Experts send warning on portable generators after 3 people die

PORT ARTHUR, Texas (KTRK) -- More than two dozen reported carbon monoxide poisoning cases in the Port Arthur area in the past 24 hours are prompting a warning about the use of portable generators.

Seventeen people, including a 14-year-old girl, were overcome by fumes from a generator Thursday in Port Neches. As of Saturday, six people were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, and three were found dead in a Port Arthur game room.

RELATED: 3 dead and 23 hospitalized in Port Arthur, all due to possible CO poisoning

"Carbon monoxide is a gas that doesn't smell like anything, doesn't look like anything, and the problem is some of these generators produce carbon monoxide," said Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief Medical Officer at United Memorial Medical Center.

Varon described the symptoms as ranging between simply having a headache or nausea to falling into a coma.

Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin, compromising every organ in the body.

"You can have long term neurological deficits, the heart," he said. "You can have a heart attack, and the lungs can't get enough oxygen."

He stressed it's critical to receive immediate medical attention to avoid permanent damage.

Manufacturers stress in safety warnings that a generator is never to be used indoors, but only outdoors.

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