The Westchester County Department of Health is alerting residents and businesses with generators, camp cook stoves, and chain saws to only operate them out of doors. They produce carbon monoxide and can be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning. During a power outage, generators can be dangerous if not used properly. Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. Here are the county’s tips:
- Never use a generator inside your house or in partly enclosed areas such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces, or sheds, or in partly enclosed spaces such as carports or breezeways – even if windows are open.
- Generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows. Carbon monoxide in the generator’s fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death.
- Place generators outside, far away and downwind from any buildings. One study demonstrated that 15 feet was not far enough to prevent a build-up of CO inside the home.
- Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading your generator can damage it and any appliances connected to it. Fire may result.
- Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion.
- If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
Alternate heating/cooking sources:
- If you plan to cook on a barbeque grill or camp stove, remember these also produce carbon monoxide and are for outdoor use only.
- If you use a fireplace, wood stove, or portable kerosene heater to stay warm, be sure there is adequate ventilation to the outside. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home.
- Never use a natural gas or propane stove/oven to heat your home.
- If you use a kerosene heater, use 1-K grade kerosene only. Never substitute with fuel oil, diesel, gasoline or yellow (regular) kerosene.
- Open a window to provide ventilation when a portable kerosene heater is in use to reduce carbon monoxide fumes inside the home.
Tools and equipment:
- Fuel-powered tools and equipment, such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, and pressure-washers, emit CO. Never start or operate these devices in an enclosed space such as a garage.
- When adding fuel to a space heater, or wood to a wood stove or fireplace, wear non-flammable gloves and clothing.
- Never add fuel to a space heater when it is hot. The fuel can ignite, burning you and your home.
- Keep the heater away from objects that can burn, such as furniture, rugs or curtains.
- If you have a fire extinguisher, keep it nearby.
- Be careful with candles — never leave them burning if you leave the room.
- Keep children away from space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid accidental burns.