Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns of dangers from generators, candles, and wet appliances after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or flood knocks out electricity. The Commission offers these safety tips:
- Never use a generator indoors, including garages, basements, and crawlspaces, even with ventilation. Exhaust fumes contain high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) which can be deadly if inhaled. Use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors. Never store gasoline in the home or near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage where gasoline fumes could be ignited. CPSC has more details about safe use of generators at: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/portgen.pdf
- Plug individual appliances into heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cords and plug the cords into the generator. Check that the extension cords have a wire gauge adequate for the appliance loads. Make sure that each cord is free of cuts or tears and its plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
- Do not use electrical or gas appliances that have been wet and do not turn on damaged appliances because of the hazards of electric shock or fire.
- Do not use gas appliances that have been submerged because silt can make valves inoperable, leading to a gas leak or fire.
- Never use charcoal indoors because burning charcoal produces high levels of carbon monoxide that can reach lethal levels in enclosed spaces.
- Make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are fresh. Test these alarms to make sure they are working.
- Exercise caution when using candles. Use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.
- Keep burning candles away from drafts. Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Extinguish candles when you leave the room.