Texas Residents Reminded Of Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Texas Department of State Health Services is reminding those still without electricity as a result of Hurricane Ike to use extreme caution with generators and other carbon monoxide (CO) producing devices.

There have been reports of deaths from carbon monoxide from portable generators in the recovery area.

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To avoid the build-up of deadly CO gas, always place generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas at least 10 feet away from buildings. It is never safe to use generators indoors or in garages even with the doors open. Likewise, gasoline-powered tools, camp stoves and charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide and should never be used indoors.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include: dizziness, drowsiness, severe headache, weakness, nausea and confusion. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should go – or be moved to – a well-ventilated area outdoors and should receive immediate medical attention.

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Here are some additional portable generator safety tips from Briggs & Stratton: 1. Always read and follow the operator's manual and all operating instructions before running generator. 2. Engines emit deadly carbon monoxide gas. Use your generator outdoors only, away from open windows, vents, or doors. Never use your generator inside homes, garages, crawl spaces, or other enclosed areas. Fumes that can kill you can build up in these areas. Using a fan and opening doors or windows does NOT provide enough fresh air. 3. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector when running your generator. 4. Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable, allow engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling. Always use fresh gas in your generator. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer. 5. Maintain your generator according to the maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety. 6. Keep generator at least 5 feet away from any structures or combustible materials. Reflective exhaust heat can damage fuel tank causing fire. 7. When using extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get HOT, always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations. 8. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch. Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. 9. Protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow. Generators produce powerful voltage; DO NOT operate under wet conditions.