SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — A Louisiana family of five died of carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after Hurricane Laura.
Experts told KSLA News 12 it’s important that people know how and where it is safe to run a generator; otherwise they can cause more harm than good.
“They’ll produce carbon monoxide,” Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), said. “That’s the key.
“Again, you would never leave your car running indoors or in the garage. Same thing: You’ve got to treat it like an engine because it’s running and producing carbon monoxide.
“They’re perfectly safe if their outdoors and a safe distance from the house.”
People need to have a plan in order to ensure their safety, Kiser said. That includes having cables long enough to keep the generator a safe distance from the house, buying enough fuel and knowing how many watts are needed to power the house.
“Generators come in all shapes and sizes. What do you want to power? Do you have just a handful of plugs to charge your phone and maybe the TV? Or are you trying to run the refrigerator or the air conditioning?”
Kiser said to also be mindful of the amount of fuel needed to power those items.
“Oftentimes, when the power is down, you can’t get fuel at the gas station.”
And old fuel will not work. The properties of ethanol can cause the fuel to separate, Kiser explained.
Here is a list of things to beware of when placing and running a generator:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They will tell you what kind of fuel you need, what is considered a “safe distance” from your home, etc.
- Do not run the generator in an enclosed space, like a garage.
- Wait for the generator to cool before adding more fuel.
- Do not place the generator with the exhaust facing windows or doors.
- Keep the generator dry. You may need to buy a generator cover.
- Be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that has no smell. That’s why it is known as a “silent killer.”