Officials are warning residents without power not to use generators indoors after a Detroit woman and her two children were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning.
The incident happened Wednesday evening at the 22-year-old woman's home on the 1900 block of Montrose on the city's west side, said Capt. Chris Dixon. Police received a 911 call and found the woman and her two kids, ages 6 and 1. The woman had been using a generator inside the home.
“Due to the power outage, a lot of people are using those generators, but you can’t use them inside,’’ said Dixon. “You would think people would know that. ...
“When you use any type of generator like that, it has to be used outside. You can’t use a gas-powered generator inside your home because it emits carbon monoxide.’’
Roughly 99,000 Detroiters remained without power as of noon Thursday, officials said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that between 2004 and 2013, there were 657 portable generator-related carbon monoxide deaths, nationwide.
A common mistake is that homeowners believe that opening windows or running fans would prevent carbon monoxide buildup, which is inaccurate, said Dixon.
While you cannot smell carbon monoxide, it can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headache, severe drowsiness and a flu-like feeling. Residents who experience these symptoms should get fresh air and seek help immediately for possible carbon monoxide poisoning in the local hospital emergency room, where they will conduct a blood test.
Dixon offered these tips for using a generator:
- Never operate a generator indoors or in an unventilated area. The exhaust contains deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
- Do not store gasoline for a generator indoors. Gasoline should be stored in an approved, non-glass safety container. Extinguish all flames or cigarettes when handling gasoline or the generator. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator.
- Make sure you have enough fuel to run a generator for an extended period of time; during a power outage, gas stations may be closed.
- Never refuel a generator while it is running. Shut it off and let it cool for 10 minutes before refueling to minimize the danger of fire.
- Parts of the generator are very hot during operation. Avoid contact especially with the muffler area. Keep children away at all times.
- Protect the generator from rain and other moisture sources to prevent electrocution.
- When not in use, store the generator in a dry location such as a garage or shed.
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