Powerful Hurricane Michael, now a tropical storm, leaves a path of destruction in Florida and elsewhere, including flooding and downed power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning residents in hurricane-impacted areas about the deadly dangers that exist during and after the storm. “The aftermath of the storm is very dangerous and consumers need to take appropriate safety precautions to keep their families safe,” says CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle.
During power outages, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fires increase. Here’s how you can keep your family safe.
- Use portable gas generators safely. Read the label on your generator and the owner’s manual BEFORE use.
- Use your generator OUTSIDE your house ONLY, at least 20 feet from your home.
- NEVER use a generator inside a home, garage or shed. Carbon monoxide from generators is poisonous and can KILL you in minutes. CO is called the “invisible killer” because you cannot see it or smell it.
- Make sure you have working CO alarms in your home. They should be placed outside separate sleeping areas and on each floor of your home.
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms too. Check the batteries! They should be placed on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom.
Why is this important? Poisonous carbon monoxide from portable generators can kill you and your family in minutes. CO, the invisible killer, is colorless and odorless. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning. CPSC estimates about 70 of those deaths are related to portable generators.
Other hazards include:
– Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
– Use caution when burning candles. Use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.
– Look for signs that your appliances have gotten wet. Discard electrical or gas appliances that have been wet because they pose electric shock and fire hazards.
– Before using your appliances, have a professional or your gas or electric company evaluate your home and replace all gas control valves, electrical wiring, circuit breakers, and fuses that have been under water.
GAS LEAKS: IF YOU SMELL GAS, REPORT IT
If you smell or hear gas, do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone. Leave immediately and call 911.
Please share CPSC Acting Chairman’s hurricane safety message and CPSC’s new hurricane safety guide which can be printed and distributed. Don’t sacrifice safety before or after the storm.
Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle’s safety message:
CPSC spokespeople are available for interviews on these and other safety tips. Contact CPSC’s Office of Communications at 301-504-7908.