Following a storm, many homeowners feel like they've weathered the worst of it. But there are still many dangers that can occur after the storm has calmed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding consumers of the following lifesaving safety tips.
Generator Safety. Hurricanes can cause widespread power outages, which means that many consumers will use their portable generators.
"Consumers need to be especially careful during power outages, because the risk of carbon monoxide, CO poisoning and fire increases," says CPSC Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle. "Make sure there are battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup installed in your home—outside separate sleeping areas and on each floor of your home—and that they’re working properly," she adds. The Chairman also says to “make sure your generator has had proper maintenance and you have the proper extension cords for connecting the items you need to power—and that it’s only used outside your house, never inside."
CO is an invisible killer. It's colorless and odorless. More than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning, nearly 70 of which are related to portable generators. Other generator safety tips include:
- Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm when it rings. Get outside immediately. Then call 911.
- Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy, then call 911. CO poisoning from portable generators can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious instead of experiencing these symptoms.
Charcoal Danger. Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
Candles. Use caution when burning candles. Use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.
Wet Appliances. Look for signs that your appliances have gotten wet. Discard electrical or gas appliances that have been wet because they pose electric shock and fire hazards.
- Before using your appliances, have a professional or your gas or electric company evaluate your home and replace all gas control valves, electrical wiring, circuit breakers and fuses that have been under water.
Gas Leaks. If you smell or hear gas, do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission