According to the Associated Press as of Monday morning, Hurricane Irene blacked out 8 million homes and businesses at its height. Many are still without power.
And online news reports of carbon monoxide incidents due to generators have been popping up:
- Ellicott City, Md.: A 48-year-old man died from carbon monoxide poisoning. His wife and teenage son were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning. The family reportedly had a generator running in their garage. The batteries were dead in the carbon monoxide alarm in the home. (Source: Baltimore Sun)
- Fairfield, Ct.: Six people – four adults and two children – were reportedly treated at a hospital for carbon monoxide exposure. A gasoline generator was running in the basement of their home. (Source: WTNH-TV 8)
- Washington Township, N.J.: A police sergeant and a firefighter were reportedly hospitalized after working for five hours in a room while a generator was running. (Source: Examiner)
- Kensington, Md.: Two people were reportedly taken to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. The house had a generator running outside; however, the carbon monoxide drifted in through open windows. (Source: WTOP)
- Hanover, Va.: Two people were taken to the hospital. A gas-powered generator was reportedly outside an open window. High levels of CO were found inside. (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- Abington, Md.: A family of seven put their generator just inside the garage door. The garage door was reportedly raised about a foot to ventilate the fumes. But the fumes entered the house. The family survived. (Source: ABC-TV 2)
Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer. It’s odorless and colorless. Operating a generator inside your home is like running hundreds of cars in your home. The carbon monoxide can kill you and your family in minutes.
If you’re a first-time generator user – or even if you’ve used one before – make sure to read the owner’s manual and the warning label on your generator carefully. Use a generator outside your home, far away from windows, doors and vents. DO NOT use it inside. And make sure your home has a working CO alarm.