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Fire tips: Protect against carbon monoxide dangers

  • Chad Atwood

One challenge we all face from time to time is power outages. During these outages, many people rely on portable generators to provide temporary power without understanding the dangers they can pose. The exhaust created by generators contains carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially lethal gas. Carbon monoxide can be poisonous in small amounts over a long period of time or in large amounts over a short period of time.

If you choose to use a portable generator, there are several precautions you should take to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning and other potential dangers:

• Generators should be used in well-ventilated locations outside, at least 5 feet from doors, windows and openings.

• Generators should never be used in an attached garage, even with the door open.

• Place generators where the exhaust fumes can’t enter your home through windows, doors or other openings.

• Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home.

• Make sure that you turn off the generator and let it cool down before refueling. Refueling a hot generator can lead to a fire or explosion.

• Fuel for the generator should be stored outside your home and only in correctly marked and approved containers.

Additionally, make sure any appliances powered by the generator are plugged directly into the generator or a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Check all extension cords for cuts and tears, and make sure the plug has all three prongs. Generators should be connected to your home’s wiring only by a licensed electrician in accordance with all electrical and fire codes.

For more, call Fire Marshal Chad Atwood at 843-726-7522.

Chad Atwood is the fire marshal for the town of Ridgeland. He is a graduate of the South Carolina Fire Academy.

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