EPA Urges Those Affected by Power Outages to Avoid Indoor Air Dangers, Use Generators Safely
DALLAS – (Feb. 16, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds communities, families and business owners to be aware of conditions that could lead to poor or dangerous indoor air quality during widespread power outages. Most importantly, always operate portable generators according to the instructions and always run them outside, far away from buildings. Running a portable generator inside or too close to your home can lead to injury or death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Indoor air quality can be impacted in several ways during a power outage:
Use portable generators safely
Never use a portable generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.
Heating and cooking
During a power outage, do not try to heat your home by using combustion appliances including gas stoves or ovens, outdoor grills or clothes dryers. Never operate any gas-burning heater or other appliance in a poorly vented or closed room, or where you are sleeping. Do not use barbecues, hibachis, camp stoves, or any other non-vented combustion appliances to cook indoors, or for any other indoor use. Combustion appliances produce toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide (CO). While you shouldn't use any kind of combustion appliance, there are ways to cook indoors during a power outage. You can use a vented fireplace or a vented wood or other fuel burning stove, if it is set up for cooking.
Use flashlights or battery powered lanterns if available. If you use candles, make sure the area is ventilated since candles emit combustion products and, if left unattended, can be a fire hazard. If available, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns instead of candles.
Please visit EPA’s website for more information on indoor air quality safety during emergencies: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/emergencies-and-iaq
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