The Louisiana Department of Health on Saturday has confirmed two additional deaths tied to the February 2021 winter storm, bringing the statewide death toll to 5.

A 68-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman in Avoyelles Parish died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a generator was placed in the camper in which they were staying.

The parish coroner has confirmed these deaths are considered storm-related.

Below are details on the 5 deaths LDH has confirmed to date:

  • 50-year-old male, Lafayette Parish, slipped on ice and struck head on ground
  • 74-year-old female, Lafayette Parish, exposure
  • 77-year-old male, Calcasieu Parish, slipped into pool and drowned
  • 68-year-old male, Avoyelles Parish, carbon monoxide from improper generator usage
  • 44-year-old female, Avoyelles Parish, carbon monoxide from improper generator usage

Generator safety

Portable generators should never be used indoors. This includes in a garage, carport, basement, crawl space or other enclosed or partially enclosed area, even those with ventilation.

Gas-powered generators produce carbon monoxide which is odorless and colorless. Inhaling carbon monoxide can very quickly lead to full incapacitation or death.

Opening windows or doors or using fans will not prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately.

Generators should be placed outside, more than 20 feet away from the home, doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Do not refuel when hot.

The generator should be kept dry and should not be used in wet conditions. 

Heating safety

Make sure that your heating system has been properly serviced and is clean, working properly and ventilated to the outside. If you are going to use a fireplace or chimney, be sure that they are also inspected and cleaned.

Do not use gas or electric ovens or stoves for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, and electric ovens were not designed for space heating.

Do not burn outdoor barbecue materials indoors, even in a fireplace.

Be sure that you have a working smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Space heater safety

If you are using a space heater to heat your home, make sure to follow these steps:

  • Put your space heater on the floor and leave it there.
  • Keep it away from water.
  • Keep it at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. This includes curtains, furniture and walls.
  • Never leave the space heater unattended in a room.
  • Plug the space heater directly into the wall and not a surge protector.

Additional tips

Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly, whenever temperatures drop.

Be sure to protect any outdoor pipes, bring in any plants or pets, and take other necessary precautions.

Click here to access the Department of Health's Winter Safety Toolkit, which includes graphics, flyers and banners.