MEMA Urges Residents to be Cautious When Using Generators, Alternate Heating Sources

PEARL – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wants to remind residents still without power following the Christmas severe weather to use extreme caution around downed power lines and when using generators and alternate heating sources.

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

Generators:

  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when using generators:

  • Never run generators indoors, including garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds.
  • Get to fresh air right away if you start to feel dizzy or weak.

Electrical Hazards:

  • Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the carbon monoxide hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
  • Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.
  • NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

Fire Hazards:

  • Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater.
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

Downed Power lines:

  • Always treat downed power lines as live or active. If you notice downed power lines in your area, move away immediately, and call your power service company, or 9-1-1.
  • NEVER attempt to move, drive or walk over or near downed power lines as they can arc to you or your vehicle.

Alternate Heating Sources:

  • NEVER use ovens, stovetops or grills as alternate heating sources.
  • If burning a fire for heat, keep the fire a safe distance from the home, as windy conditions could spread the fire rapidly.

For more safety information, visit www.msema.org or contact your local fire department for more tips.

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