Stay safe when the power goes out

Written by on February 22, 2021

Stay safe when the power goes out

By Megan Frank

February 22, 2021

Portable generator sales fluctuate yearly based on weather-related power outages, but demand remains high. Since 2007, all portable generators have been required to include labels warning about carbon monoxide poisoning.
Photo | John Raoux / AP Photo

As snowstorms hammer away at the Lehigh Valley, there is a lot of news about massive blackouts following snowstorms in Texas where people are taking drastic measures to stay warm including running cars to heat their homes. 

Listen to the story.

Texas has reported more than 500 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and at least two deaths. 

The American Red Cross says there are dangers associated with trying to keep warm using anything that produces carbon monoxide.

Pete Brown is the executive director of the American Red Cross Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter in South Whitehall Township which serves the Greater Lehigh Valley. He offers a warning and advice.  

“Carbon monoxide has no smell. You’re not aware that it’s happening. The initial symptoms are like the flu… you might get nauseated or light-headed,” Brown says.

But there are ways to avoid catastrophe.

“It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re running a heater inside your home, you want to have a window cracked open so that there’s some ventilation,” Brown says.

Running a car in an enclosed garage, even with the door open, is not safe and could also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, he adds

Additionally, power generators should be kept outside for the same reason, he says.

Brown recommends carbon monoxide readers which can help to detect the gas.

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