If you are like my family, you have purchased a generator to prevent food losses and to run a fan during a power outage. Whenever combustion occurs (whether from a generator, a fire, a gas-fired water heater or stove) carbon monoxide is produced. Normally we have exhaust fans that help to remove the gas from the home, but during a power outage, we don’t operate normally. Carbon monoxide can kill in minutes. One problem is that it is a colorless, odorless gas. Exposure to the gas results in confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination or unconsciousness and death. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.
The storm is bad enough, don’t let a mistake cause a fatality.
- Don’t operate a portable generator in the house or garage or shed. Although you want to protect the equipment, it is more important to protect the people in your home. Opening doors and windows is NOT enough! A buildup of lethal doses of carbon monoxide can still occur.
- Operate the generator at least 20 ft. away from the house and point the exhaust away from the home. Even a porch or carport may be too close to the home.
- Keep windows and doors closed in the path of the generator’s exhaust.
- Purchase a portable generator that has a CO shut off safety feature. This shuts the generator off when high levels of CO are detected around the generator. Look for PGMA G300-2018 and UL 2201 which help to reduce the deaths by poisoning by 87% and 100%.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Make sure your alarm has a battery backup.
- Install a CO alarm outside each bedroom and on each level of your home.
- Consider purchasing an alarm that allows you to record instructions for young children.
- If the alarm sounds, go outside immediately and call the fire department or 911. Do not remove the batteries because it keeps going off. Do not re-enter the home until emergency responders have given the ok.
- Practice a drill of what to do if an alarm sounds.
- Don’t use grills, hibachis or charcoal indoors. Do not cook on a charcoal grill in a garage, even with the door open.
- Use flashlights instead of candles.
- Don’t leave a car running inside an attached garage while taking advantage of air-conditioning-even with the garage door open.
- Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. This blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.