Post-Storm Preparedness: Carbon Monoxide Safety And Generators
Many people die immediately after a hurricane, severe storm or other disaster when generators or
gasolinepowered tools expose them to deadly carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is an invisible,
odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas.
To avoid carbon monoxide exposure, be extremely careful using generators, lanterns, gas powered
appliances or when cooking on charcoal grills or gas grills. Equipment or appliances that produce
carbon monoxide should never be used indoors. Take the following precautions:
- NEVER use a generator or grill indoors, including inside homes, garages,
basements, crawl spaces, tents or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas.
- Opening doors and windows or using fans will NOT prevent CO build-up. The gas
cannot be seen or smelled and poisoning can occur in a matter of minutes.
- Follow the instructions that come with the generator. ALWAYS locate the unit
outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could
allow CO to seep into the house.
- Gas-powered generators can be used safely if they are placed in a well-ventilated outdoor area
at least 10 feet away from a home or structure.
- If electric power is out, do not use gas ranges or ovens to heat your home
- Remember that you cannot see or smell CO and portable generators can produce high levels of CO
very quickly. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh
air immediately. DO NOT DELAY.
- If someone else collapses or is not breathing, dial 9-1-1.
- When you are making your hurricane or severe weather preparedness plans, remember to install
batteryoperated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, always
following the manufacturer's installation instructions. Test your CO alarms frequently
and replace dead batteries.