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Owen County official warns carbon monoxide from appliances can kill

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By Rick Morgan
Owen County Emergency Management

Owen County Emergency Management is warning consumers to be vigilant when using appliances that use fuels to deal with power outages.  These can be generators, cooking equipment, lights and etc.  
The exhaust from fuel-powered appliances contains high levels of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) that can quickly incapacitate and kill within minutes.
They should only be used outside, away from homes. Never use one of these appliances inside a house, basement, garage, shed or near windows or vents to your house or a neighbor’s house.
There have been at least 755 CO deaths involving appliances between 1999 and 2011.
Many appliance CO deaths occur in the aftermath of natural disasters and power outages.
Morgan’s message is that these deaths are preventable.
Where you use a CO producing appliance can make the difference between life and death.
The only safe place to operate the appliance is outside in open air, placed away from your home, not in a garage or any enclosed space.  
Portable generators are useful when electric power is needed, but they can be very hazardous when installed or used improperly.  
The hazards may include damaged electrical systems, carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fire.
Carefully follow the manufacturer recommendations for installation and use.
Also, consult electrical experts to ensure installation meets local building codes.  
In addition to using a generator outside and away from the home, here are some more generator safety tips:  Read both the label on the generator and in the owner’s manual and follow the instructions.  Use heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use with the generator. Extension cords should be free of damage.  Extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied.  
If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right way - do not delay. CO from generators can kill you in minutes.  
Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “back feeding.”
This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.