On Nov. 11, just after Hurricane Sandy hit, New Canaan emergency services responded to at least six incidents of homes filled with deadly levels of carbon monoxide (CO) gas due to generators. As of 8 a.m. Nov. 12, we responded to two additional incidents -- there will be more.
CO is an odorless, invisible gas that can kill if not detected quickly. Symptoms are headaches, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Long-term exposure to low levels can be just as deadly as short term exposure at high levels.
There is no doubt in my mind that there will be fatalities in the region caused by CO poisoning before this disaster recovery is complete. And with another storm expected to hit later this week, it is imperative that homeowners follow all safety instructions for safe use of generators. The following tips will help us all survive this safely.
Generators should be at least 10 feet outside homes with the exhaust discharge directed away from the home. Never inside garages or on porches.
Make sure smoke and CO detectors are present and operating in the home. For assistance with detectors please contact the Office of Emergency Management at 203-594-4100.
Never re-fuel while generator is hot. Store gas cans at least 10 feet from generator.
Never try to feed your home through an electrical outlet -- this could cause power to back-feed to the street causing injury to workers trying to restore power.
Always follow manufacturers use, installation and care.
For further assistance please contact the New Canaan EOC at 203-594-4100.