After the storm: Mishandling household appliances after a storm can be deadly

Carbon monoxide safety

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - As you prepare for a FIRST ALERT Weather Day, you need to keep in mind what you do after a storm can put your family at risk.

Many people use portable generators to keep their home comfortable; Scott Eason with Lowe’s in Homewood says generators can come in handy.

“A generator is great for running small appliances. In addition to your refrigerator and your freezer,” said Eason.

However, if a generator is not used properly, they can be dangerous.

“It’s not recommended that you run a portable generator inside. Having it far enough away from the home and not near any type of air intake is extremely important,” Eason said.

You want to keep generators 20 or more feet away from your home as generators produce carbon monoxide.

"It is a major cause of poisoning death," said Ann Slattery, Director of Regional Poison Control Center Children's of Alabama.

Children’s of Alabama Regional Poison Control Center says CO poisoning is a year-round issue, but cases increase during severe weather threats.

“Due to generators and people trying to bring their grills inside,” said Slattery.

Using a barbecue grill at the door of your home or even in the garage is dangerous because they give off CO gas. Your car, lawn mower, furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, gas stoves even clothes dryers do as well.

“Any carbon-based fuel will produce carbon monoxide when it is burned and there’s not enough oxygen,” Slattery said.

Because CO is odorless, tasteless, and invisible it’s important to have detectors.

“You need to have a Carbon Monoxide detector on every floor of your home, by your bedrooms, 10-15 feet from the door that goes to your garage and 10-15 feet from the fireplace,” said Slattery.

If the detector goes off, get out of your home immediately, then call the fire department. “If your carbon monoxide detector goes off. You should check it out. When in doubt, check it out,” said Slattery.

Even though you can’t taste, see or smell carbon monoxide, it can make you sick.

"If you have a headache, and you have nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, you may not think carbon monoxide, but if everyone in your home is having those same symptoms, you need to be thinking carbon monoxide,” said Slattery.

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