Much of the U.S. has been hit with extreme winter weather this month, leaving many Texans without power as they struggle to find ways to stay warm in freezing temperatures.
In one tragic update, reports show a mother and her child have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while in an attempt to survive the severe cold.
“You’ve got to be careful”
The individuals represent just two in the death toll being attributed to the winter weather. As of the latest reports available, more than two dozen people have died as a second storm passed over much of the south.
Police reportedly discovered the woman and her 8-year-old daughter during a welfare check at their home in Houston. A man and a 7-year-old boy were also found suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning but survived the ordeal.
A car was left running in the home’s garage as the family attempted to stay warm. The woman reportedly lost consciousness while still inside the vehicle.
Police Lt. Larry Crowson told reporters that it has been “a very difficult time” as so many across the city and beyond are living without power.
“I know it’s cold, but you’ve got to be careful about using generators on cars inside a garage or any type of fire, grill, or charcoal grill,” he added. “Carbon monoxide is odorless and can kill people very easily.”
“An absolute public health disaster”
Hundreds of others have been hospitalized across the state for carbon monoxide poisoning and exposure to the elements as the cold weather continues to ravage the region. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 3 million homes were believed to be without power.
Two men in Houston were found dead from the cold. A woman and her three grandchildren in the same city were killed in a house fire after using a fireplace to stay warm.
In North Carolina, the storm led to a tornado that left three people dead and at least 10 others injured. Outside of the U.S., the massive winter storm has also disrupted power for millions of residents in northern Mexico.
One Houston medical official told KPRC that the current situation represents “an absolute public health disaster,” indicating that carbon monoxide poisoning “certainly happens when it gets cold, but never in these numbers.”