Generator safety urged during storms

By Wesley Harris

With the approach of another potential hurricane and the possibility of power outages, the public is being warned of the dangers of improper generator use.

At least four people died and over 140 hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisonings in Louisiana during generator use amid the devastation from Hurricane Ida. Seven children and five adults from a single home were rushed to a New Orleans hospital three days after Ida for treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and can kill before victims realize they are being poisoned.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced the deaths and hospitalizations and said those using generators should follow several health and safety measures to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

–Place generators at least 20 feet away from your home.

–Look for any air entry points into the home near your unit and ensure that those are properly closed and sealed off, such as windows or doors, air intakes, nearby dryer vents or crawl spaces.

–Have a CO alarm.

–Give these generators breaks that allow for any concentrated exhaust to clear away from the area.

— Open your windows and doors during this break to air out any concentration that may have collected in your home.

In addition:

— Check the manufacturer’s specifications to verify the installation meets those specs.

— If there is concern the installation standards were not met, get an appropriate installer to inspect it.

— Ensure the generator is being appropriately maintained, including the oil change frequency requirements.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” Breathing large amounts of CO can cause unconsciousness or death. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

“If you breathe in a lot of carbon monoxide it can make you pass out or kill you,” the LDH announcement explained. “People who are sleeping or drunk can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they have symptoms.”

Tropical Storm Nicholas, which may strengthen into a hurricane, is expected to bring heavy rains and wind gusts of 20-25mph to north Louisiana on Wednesday.

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