Government Agencies warn of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Other Dangers following Hurricane Sandy

Caution Sign - BSN

(Best Syndication News) - The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the US Fire Administration (USFA), are instructing Northeastern residents to be careful as Hurricane Sandy travels north. The power outages can create safety hazards. To stay safe, the government agencies are offering survival tips.

There is a higher risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if residents us gas-powered generators. Burning candles can cause fires. Fallen power lines can cause electrical shock.

Gas-powered generators are often used to provide electricity. The government agencies warn that using the gas-powered generators indoors is dangerous. The generators should never be run in basements, garages, or near the home. The carbon monoxide created is equivalent to several vehicles running in the garage. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly in minutes. People may not be aware that they are being exposed to the gas because it is odorless and colorless.

Carbon monoxide deaths have been increasing since 1999 as more consumers purchase generators. There have been at least 755 carbon monoxide related deaths between 1999 and 2011. Last year there was 73 carbon monoxide related deaths. The majority of the deaths involved the people running the unit in the basement or their garage.

Consumers who have a generator should never run the unit inside the home, basement, shed, or garage. This is true even if the windows are wide open. If the generator is outside, do not put it near windows, doors, or vents. Make sure to read the generator’s operating instructions and follow them. Electrical cables should not be damaged and should be rated for outdoor use.

Another concern is the use of charcoal grills and camping stoves indoors. These products also produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide.

The government recommends having a carbon monoxide alarm installed outside each bedroom and on every level of the home. The batteries in these units need to be changed every year. In California, there is a law requiring homeowners to have carbon monoxide alarms installed in their home.

Another concern is with flooding. Downed electrical wires and cable TV feeds can produce a deadly voltage. If you are standing in water, you should never operate or hold plugged in electrical appliances. Homes that have been flooded should have the circuit breakers turned off. The circuit breakers and outlets should be inspected and tested by a professional electrician before restoring power.

Natural gas or propane valves that were exposed to flood water should be replaced. Gas connections also need to be inspected for leaks. To do this, listen and smell for escaping gas. In the case of a gas leak, leave the house immediately and leave the doors open; then call 911. Lighting a match could cause an explosion. Make sure to have a professional inspect the gas lines and appliances before restoring service.

Candles are a fire danger. Flashlights are a much safer option. If you use candles, never leave them unattended and extinguish them when leaving the room. Don’t place the candles near flammable items such as curtains or fabrics.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate suggested that affected residents should stay indoors in a safe place and continue to watch conditions. Residents wanting to go back to their home should wait until the local authorities give approval.

By: N Wilson

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