When Hurricane Laura violently approached shore last week, residents along the Gulf Coast prepared as thoroughly as possible. Safety, as always, remained the utmost concern.
The storm changed direction and did not cause as much damage as anticipated in Port Arthur. However, the 150 mile-per-hour winds and pounding rain leveled properties across miles of land, destroying businesses and leaving families in need of housing. The associated flooding and downed power lines compounded an already horrific situation.
Carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to a hurricane
Without electricity, people often use portable generators as an energy source.
According to a tragic local news report, at least three shrimpers died from the carbon monoxide emitted by a generator used in the game room where they waited out the storm. Meanwhile, their lives may not be the only ones at risk.
Suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by backup generator use led medical facilities to treat at least 22 more people. Meanwhile, generators will likely play a significant role in storm cleanup efforts.
Are portable generators safe?
In addition to the necessary power generators supply, they also present some risk. Possible hazards include carbon monoxide poisoning from an internal combustion engine’s exhaust, electrocution and fire.
Some of the safety tips OSHA recommends include:
- Do not use a generator in an enclosed space, even with open windows
- Leave space between groups of people and a portable generator
- Store fuel in marked, ventilated containers away from heat sources or living areas
- Allow a generator to cool before adding fuel to reduce the chance of ignition
- Only use and control a generator in a dry area
Because you cannot smell carbon monoxide gas, properties should have a working CO detector available. Nevertheless, it may be wise to use a generator only while you are awake. Then, vacate the premises if gas is detected and seek medical attention if you begin to experience the common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning such as a headache, dizziness or nausea.
A negligent property owner may be liable for injuries, including fatalities, resulting from a failure to maintain equipment designed to protect people from carbon monoxide poisoning.