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Coutinho Urges Residents Using Generators to Power their Homes to Take Precautions to Ensure Safety

(NEWARK) – Following the death of two teens in Newark who died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator kept too close to a window, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) on Thursday cautioned residents who are using generators to power their homes to heed recommended precautions to avoid injury or worse.

“New Jerseyans braved this devistating storm and are now trying to adjust to the aftermath. Millions are without power with no real assurance on when it will be restored. Many residents are relying on generators to power their homes, which are convenient, but can be extremely dangerous if not used properly,” said Coutinho. “Generators should only be used outside in a well-ventilated area, and individuals using them should follow all instructions for safe and proper use. As we pick up the pieces, I urge residents who are using generators to take these extra steps to ensure the safety of their families. As we’ve seen in this tragic case, it could mean the difference between life and death.”

Coutinho urged residents who are using generators to follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions before running generator
  • Engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.
  • Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors.
  • Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.
  • Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.
  • Maintain your generator according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
  • Never operate the generator near combustible materials.
  • If you have to use extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations.
  • Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch.
  • Generators produce powerful voltage – Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow.

The two girls, who were sisters, died last night, apparently poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator kept too close to a window, according to a media report. According to the same report, if a generator is kept too close to a window, the differing temperatures cause a vacuum and will suck the invisible, odorless carbon monoxide inside. In Trenton, one person died and seven others were hospitalized last night with carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator, and a New Brunswick man was found dead this morning of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning materials such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal or wood. The gas can build up inside your home, garage or camper and poison the people inside. Breathing carbon monoxide can cause nausea, dizziness or headaches. Severe poisoning can result in brain damage, heart damage or death. If you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated, you should seek medical attention.

“What’s most tragic about these deaths is that they were avoidable. My condolences go to the family of these two young women. Let’s not allow their deaths to be in vain. If you’re using a generator, please take the necessary precautions to prevent any potential tragedies,” said Coutinho.