Portable generators are useful during power outages. However, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools from 1999-2012. The report found that portable generators were linked to more than 85% of non-fire CO deaths associated with engine-driven tools, or 800 out of 931 deaths, during that 14-year period.
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the #1 priority for residents is to get out safely. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.
Cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires. One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home.
Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire, so if you discover a fire in any room CLOSE THE DOOR, EVACUATE AND CALL 911. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. We recommend that you use 10-year lithium ion battery smoke detectors.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Although the popularity of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms has been growing in recent years, it cannot be assumed that everyone is familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home. Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
Your ability to get out of your home during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning. Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.
Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
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