WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Tropical Storm Nicholas threatens the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to be prepared for power outages and to take steps now to keep their families safe.
Loss of Power—Using a Generator Safely
Consumers need to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power. Many use portable generators and other devices for sources of power and heat, exposing themselves to increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fire. Consumers who plan to use a portable generator in the case of a power loss should follow these tips:
- Operate portable generators outside only, at least 20 feet away from the house, and direct the generator’s exhaust away from the home and any other buildings that someone could enter.
- Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed, or on the porch. Opening doors or windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the buildup of lethal levels of CO.
- Check that portable generators have had proper maintenance, and read and follow the labels, instructions, and warnings on the generator and in the owner’s manual.
- CPSC urges consumers to look for and ask retailers for a portable generator equipped with a safety feature to shut off automatically when certain CO concentrations are present.
Poisonous carbon monoxide from a portable generator can kill in minutes. CO is an invisible killer. It’s colorless and odorless. According to the CDC, more than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning. CPSC estimates about 78 consumers die each year from CO poisoning caused by portable generators. CO poisoning from portable generators can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious before recognizing the symptoms of nausea, dizziness, or weakness.
To help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup at home, outside separate sleeping areas, and on each floor of your home.
- Make sure CO alarms at home are working properly, by pressing the test button and replacing batteries, if needed. Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm when it sounds. Get outside immediately. Then call 911.
Dangers with Charcoal and Candles
- Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide. Do not cook on a charcoal grill in a garage, even with the door open.
- Use caution when burning candles. Use flashlights instead. If using candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when leaving the room and before sleeping.
- Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every level of the house and inside each bedroom. Never ignore a ringing smoke alarm. Get outside immediately. Call 911.
If the storm causes flooding:
- Look for signs that your appliances have gotten wet. Discard unplugged electrical or gas appliances that have been wet, because they pose electric shock and fire hazards. Do not touch electrical or gas appliances that are still plugged in.
- Before using your appliances, have a professional or your gas or electric company evaluate your home, and replace all gas control valves, electrical wiring, circuit breakers, and fuses that have been under water.
If the storm causes gas leaks:
- Smell or hear gas? Do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone. Leave the home and contact local gas authorities from outside.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that you may need to adjust any preparedness actions, based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and local officials.
Remember, it only takes one storm to wreak havoc, causing mass destruction and loss of life. Be informed, be prepared, and be safe!
Links to broadcast quality video for media:
Hurricane Safety b-roll: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/XtFQ7YqK0x
Flood safety b-roll: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/thCBWTX157
For more information, contact Nicolette Nye at email@example.com or at 240-204-4410.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
For lifesaving information: