Winter weather often leads to power outages, but improper use of emergency generators and other heating devices can lead to illness and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in your home. Keep your family warm – and safe – by installing a CO detector and taking a few vital precautions.
Emergency Generator Safety
- Do not run gasoline engines in an enclosed area because they produce carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas that can cause death.
- Check the oil level in the engine on a regular basis, especially before using.
- Before refueling, let the engine cool completely.
- Place your generator a safe distance away from other structures, as the engine can get hot.
- Make sure that your generator stays dry to prevent water damage and electrical hazards.
- Do not use a generator with appliances that have gotten wet.
- Watch out for a voltage drop when using an extension cord that is too long or when using a cord with a wire size that is too small.
- Connect generators directly into appliances but never directly into a home electrical supply box.
- Ground the generator based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Select the appropriate outlet with the correct voltage.
- Start running the generator before turning on the AC circuit or before plugging in the appliance.
The capacity of a generator is calculated in watts. For instance, you may own a 2,000-watt generator. Therefore, if you have an appliance that requires 120 volts and uses 10 amps, the appliance will require 1,200 watts of power. By doing this calculation, you can determine what appliances can safely run on your generator based on its wattage rating.
CO: The Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide (CO) is considered the “silent killer” because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, and it can kill you before you are even aware it is in your home.
At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu (e.g., nausea, vomiting, headache and stomach pains). At higher levels of exposure, the effects can be fatal.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CO poisoning sends more than 20,000 Americans to the emergency room each year, and kills nearly 400. To protect both yourself and your loved ones from the risk of experiencing CO poisoning within your home, utilize the following precautions.
- Check your appliances to ensure that the flame color is blue. If it is orange, contact the fire department immediately.
- Have a professional do a safety inspection annually on all of your appliances, as well as your chimney and grill, to make sure they are in safe working order.
- Operate grills outside of your home and garage.
- Do not leave your car running in an attached garage, even if the door is open.
- Never rely on ranges, ovens, gas grills or clothes dryers to heat your home.
- Never operate fuel-burning items, such as space heaters and lawn mowers, in closed rooms.
- If you or other family members are feeling ill frequently at home, leave for several hours to see if your symptoms go away. If so, you may all be suffering from CO poisoning.
The Importance of Installing a CO Detector
CO is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid or gaseous fuels from household items such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and fireplaces. If these items are used or installed improperly, dangerous levels of CO can escape into the air and cause illness. That’s why it’s crucial to have a CO detection system within your home.
In addition to a smoke detector, install a CO detector on every level of your home. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and place each detector away from furniture and curtains to get accurate detection results.
These steps can help keep your household protected this winter and help you Be Sure. For more home safety guidance and homeowners insurance solutions, contact us today.