Commack firefighters and Rep. Steve Israel urged residents to be careful and use 'common sense' when using a gas-powered generator through Long Island's power outages.
"People need to be cognizant these are dangerous times. Hurricane Sandy has crippled Long Island Here in Commack, power outages are abundant. The use of these generators are clearly a problem," said Patrick Fazio, Commack Fire Department commissioner.
The Commack Fire Department responded to a 911 call early Monday morning in which a Commack woman suffered severe burns after spilling gasoline while attempting to refuel a generator and a nearby candle caused the vapors to catch fire.
Fazio said it is one of many generator-related calls Commack firefighters have responded to over the last week. Fire chiefs report responding to numerous calls for potential carbon monoxide poisoning, an odorless, tasteless gas given off by gas-powered generators.
"As it gets colder, more and and more people are relying on generators because LIPA is not getting on the electricity fast enough," Israel, D-Dix Hills, said.
Israel said that every year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with more than 20,000 visiting the emergency room and 4,000 being hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We urge people to use care, safety and common sense when using a generator," the congressman said.
John Cangemi, the head underwriter for scientific safety organization Underwriters Laboratory, offered these safety tips when using generators:
- Place portable generators as far away from the home as possible.
- Never use a portable generator inside the home, inside the garage or inside a enclosed area. Use a generator outdoors on an level, elevate surface so that water does not collect near it.
- Keep your generator dry, unless your generator is rated as weatherproof.
- Use a carbon monoxide alarm. Even when a generator is used correctly, carbon monoxide may leak into a home.
- Never use a generator to power your entire home - unless the generator is rated to do so. Only use a generator to power a few necessary household items.
- Do not attempt to use a stove top or gas oven to heat a home. Use appliances as attended to avoid potential problems.
- Do not attempt to plug a generator into a regular home outlet, use a UL-rated outdoor power cord.
- Be cautious when fueling generators. Fuel and vapors are extremely flammable.