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Staying safe with generators, heating devices

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Posted at 12:33 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 12:33:06-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A generator is a handy tool to have ready in Southwest Florida for power loss associated with tropical storms and hurricanes.

But if used incorrectly, they can lead to tragedy. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.

Similar consequences can befall family members who try to use appliances intended for outdoor use, such as charcoal and gas grills and heaters indoors.

Department of Health officials offer the following safety reminders:

  • Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent, or fireplace.
  • NEVER use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home.
  • ALWAYS locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator.
  • ALWAYS place the generator at least 20 feet away from the house.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
  • Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.

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 right away.

If you have a poisoning emergency, call your nearest Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 immediately.