Generators Can Be Dangerous; EOC Warns of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

The St. Croix Emergency Operations Center (EOC) warns residents against the negative effects of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. They are strongly warned against the practice of using generators indoors, in an enclosed or partially enclosed porch, and garages.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), CO is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas that interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. CO is non-irritating and can overcome persons without warning. Many people die from CO poisoning, usually while using gasoline powered tools and generators in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.
Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Severe carbon monoxide poisoning causes neurological damage, illness, coma and death.

Symptoms of CO Exposure

  • Headaches, dizziness and drowsiness
  • Nausea, vomiting, tightness across the chest

Some Sources of Exposure

  • Portable generators/generators in buildings
  • Concrete cutting saws, compressors
  • Power trowels, floor buffers, space heaters
  • Welding, gasoline powered pumps

Preventing CO Exposure

  • Opening windows and doors in an enclosed space may prevent CO buildup.
  • Make sure the generator has 3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use a generator outdoors if placed near doors, windows or vents which could allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
  • When using space heaters and stoves, ensure they are in good working order to reduce CO buildup, and never use in enclosed spaces or indoors.
  • Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air if available.
  • If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning, get to fresh air right away and seek immediate medical attention.
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