Stay safe from carbon monoxide in your home

More CoServ Members are using portable back-up generators for the rare occasions when there’s a power outage.

While these portable generators can provide power to cool your refrigerator, power your internet or turn on the lights, they can also be deadly if the exhaust fumes aren’t properly ventilated.

It’s an unfortunate reality during cold-weather outages that people will succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of a portable generator, a natural gas-powered oven or a grill.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and colorless. The silent killer is created when there’s an incomplete combustion of fuel. In humans, the carbon monoxide molecules attach to the hemoglobin in your blood and, after extended exposure, prevents blood from carrying oxygen throughout the body, causing asphyxiation.

CoServ does add mercaptan to natural gas to give it the rotten egg smell, but that smell is gone once the gas burns.

Homeowners can protect themselves by installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Check the batteries at least once a year, just as you do with your smoke detectors.

How to stay safe at home during a winter outage

  • Never operate a portable gas or diesel-powered generator near a door, window or inside a garage. They must be placed 20 feet from your home when in use.
  • Never start a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle inside a garage. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can not only affect people inside the garage but spread throughout the house.
  • Never use a natural gas-powered oven to heat your home. Leaving the oven open spreads carbon monoxide throughout the home and is inefficient for heating.
  • Never use charcoal and propane grills indoors for cooking or heating purposes. The smoke contains carbon monoxide and could be deadly. Only use in a properly ventilated area.