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Carbon Monoxide Danger from Generators and Grills

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TEXAS CITY, Texas –Many people are killed in the period following a hurricane, severe storm or other disaster due to use of gasoline-powered tools or generators that expose them to carbon monoxide (CO), according to state and federal emergency management officials. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, invisible and odorless gas.

To avoid carbon monoxide exposure, be extremely careful when 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. Opening doors and windows or using fans will NOT stop carbon monoxide build-up. The gas cannot be seen or smelled. Poisoning can occur in a matter of minutes.

Here are the symptoms of CO poisoning: dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, and loss of consciousness and – in severe cases – death. Take the following precautions:

• NEVER use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawl space, tent or other enclosed or partially enclosed area.

• Follow the instructions that come with the generator. ALWAYS locate the unit on a dry, outdoor 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.

• Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.

• 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 some one else collapses or is not breathing, dial 9-1-1.

• When you are making your hurricane or severe weather preparedness plans, remember to install battery-operated 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.

Other information on preparing for hurricanes, disasters and emergencies can be found at: www.Ready.gov     www.redcross.org     www.noaa.gov      www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.  If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disaster.

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