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141 emergency room visits for carbon monoxide poisoning in a week

As many depend on generators to provide power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, there are some things to know to stay safe.

The Louisiana Department of Health is continuing to emphasize generator safety after it says there have been 141 emergency department visits in the past week for carbon monoxide poisoning in the areas that include Orleans, St. Tammany, the river parishes and Baton Rouge.

There have already been 4 deaths reported from carbon monoxide poisoning from the improper use of generators. 

As residents try to recover after Hurricane Ida decimated communities, many may be depending on generators for power. But there are some safety concerns State Fire Marshal Butch Browning wants people to be aware of.

When using a portable generator to power appliances or portions of a home, there are some best practices to remember:

  • Keep them 20 feet away from homes, pointing downwind
  • Keep them away from door, window and vent openings
  • Give them a 20-minute cool-down period before refilling with fuel
  • Have a working carbon monoxide detector in the home

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and Browning said there have already been five deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning in the aftermath of the storm.

"We know that carbon monoxide gases are deadly — can't smell them, can't see them. They put you into a deep, deep sleep, and many people don't wake up," Browning said.

Browning said there is also a misconception that professionally installed in-home generators that are permanently mounted don't need attention, but that's not the case.

"We're finding numerous carbon monoxide alarms where these generators — because they're running for such a long time — you may have carbon monoxide vapors seeping into your home," Browning said.

Browning offered these tips for residents with in-home generators:

  • Turn it off twice a day and open the doors and windows to vent the home.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide alarm and shut the generator off if the alarm goes off.
  • Find the generator's manufacturer specifications, and get an expert to ensure it was properly installed.

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