IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 29, 2011
Residents Need to be Especially Careful When Using Generators During Power Outages
Rockville - - - The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to the 3000 block of Ferndale Street in the Kensington area just before 9 am this morning for the report of an inhalation emergency. Crews quickly arrived on the scene and rescued two elderly residents suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. The couple had lost power in the storm and a family member had stopped by to refuel their generator and check on their welfare. He found them disoriented and unresponsive and immediately called 911. The couple was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.
The incident highlights the dangers of using generators and the importance of following all manufacturer instructions including having a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector, placing generators at least 15 – 20 feet from homes and in well-ventilated areas. Fire officials are reminding residents of the following important safety tips when using a generator:
- Never operate a generator in your home, garage, basement or any other enclosed area. The exhaust from a generator contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) which can build up quickly and lead to serious injury or death.
- Proper ventilation is critical. A generator needs to be at least 15 to 20 feet from an enclosed area and away from any doors, windows and fresh air intakes where exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide can enter the home.
- Never plug your generator into an outlet, and don’t connect a generator directly into your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel.
- Make sure carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms have battery back-ups, are installed and are working properly.
- Never fuel a generator while it is running. Turn off the generator and let it cool before refueling.
- Keep generators away from all open windows – including your neighbors’ – so deadly exhaust does not enter.
- Always thoroughly read all manufacturer instructions. This can avoid dangerous shortcuts and assist in ensuring the safe operation of your generator.
How to recognize a Carbon Monoxide Emergency: Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. If a CO poisoning is suspected, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.