Many officials expected the number of households to have generators on hand to increase after the storm, and in Toms River on Thursday, state officials partnered with representatives from The Home Depot in Toms River to provide local residents with generator safety tips.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd joined Acting Director and State Fire Marshal William Kramer for a generator safety demonstration, which included basic safety measures and tips on following manufacturers' guidelines.
Exposure to CO, according to state health officials, can produce headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability at low levels. At higher levels, it can result in nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination, and death.
All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, but certain groups - infants and individuals with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems - are more susceptible to its effects according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Home Depot has hosted the safety sessions in all of their New Jersey stores, and as part of hurricane preparedness seminars in their stores along the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Did you miss the session? Here are some of the major tips:
- Never run a generator within a basement, garage or any enclosed or partially enclosed structure as this will lead to a dangerous and often fatal accumulation of carbon monoxide;
- Never position a generator too close to your home's windows and doors;
- Use battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. Test and change the batteries at regular intervals;
- Never connect a generator directly to your home's wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs;
- Always plug appliances directly into generators;
- Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs;
- Ensure your generator is properly grounded;
- Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances;
- Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down;
- Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure;
- Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby;
- Store gasoline for generator use in a safe and secure location;
- Never fuel a generator while it is operating and wait until it is cool to the touch; and
- Read and adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation. Never cut corners when it comes to safety.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately if a person is not breathing, is unconscious or unresponsive, or having seizures or convulsions;
- Exit the home/building/enclosed space immediately;
- Contact your local fire department; and
- From a safe area, call the NJ Poison Experts at 800-222-1222, for immediate treatment advice.