Using a generator? Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning

Published On: Dec 25 2013 12:46:59 PM EST

The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) asks citizens to be aware of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning as many use generators to power their homes and heaters during the ice storm-related power outage.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas produced when fossil fuels -- such as coal, gasoline, natural gas and oil -- are burned. In only minutes, deadly fumes can develop in enclosed spaces. When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and cuts off delivery of oxygen to the body's organs and tissues.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and nausea. As more of this gas is inhaled, it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage and even death. If you do suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move yourself, your family and pets to fresh air quickly and immediately call 911.

“Generators must be placed outside and away from windows or any other area where exhaust can vent back into a living area,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “They should never be placed inside a home or garage.”               

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

·         DO NOT use an oven or range as a heater.

·         DO NOT let the car run in an attached garage.

·         DO NOT use a gas or kerosene space heater inside a home, garage, cabin or other enclosed space.

·         DO NOT sleep in a room with an un-vented gas or kerosene space heater.

·         DO NOT operate fuel-powered engines – such as generators -- indoors.

·         DO NOT use a barbecue grill indoors.

·         DO follow operating and maintenance instructions for fuel-burning appliances and equipment.

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