Montgomery County, TN – According to Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), there were two reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning today resulting from the use of a generator in an enclosed area.
“Based on today’s incidents, we felt it was important to put out a message to help our residents understand the real and deadly effects of carbon monoxide poisoning,” stated EMS Operations Chief Chris Proctor.
“Because carbon monoxide is not visible and is odorless, it is especially dangerous. I ask that you please read and share the information below regarding carbon monoxide poisoning and correct use of a generator,” Proctor said.
Based on information from the American Red Cross, the primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire.
Follow the directions supplied with the generator.
- To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.
- Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
- Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator. Local laws may restrict the amount of fuel you may store, or the storage location. Ask your local fire department. Store the fuel outside of living areas in a locked shed or other protected area. To guard against accidental fire, do not store it near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated (in watts or amps) extension cord at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. The cord should be free of cuts or tears and the plug should have all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
- Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. Known as “backfeeding,” this practice puts utility workers, your neighbors and your household at risk of electrocution.
- Remember, even a properly connected portable generator can become overloaded, resulting in overheating or generator failure. Be sure to read the instructions.
- If necessary, stagger the operating times for various equipment to prevent overloads.
To Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
- Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY – DO NOT DELAY.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. Test the batteries frequently and replace when needed.
- If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
“ The EMS staff asks that you please use safe practices when using a generator. Following the right precautions could easily be the difference between life and death,” warns Proctor.
If you feel that you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 for help from a fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.