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Dozens suffer carbon monoxide poisoning from generator use following Irma

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
September 14, 2017, 10:08:31 AM EDT

Hurricane Irma caused widespread extended power outages throughout Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The power outages have sparked an increase in generator use in the affected areas.

Improper generator use has led to dozens of carbon monoxide poisoning incidents following Irma.

Man plugging in generator

Don Jordan, from left, Lisa Jordan and Pat Lamke struggle to load a generator they just bought at a Costco store as it opened for the first time since Hurricane Irma passed through in Miromar Lakes, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A Titusville family of eight and their two dogs were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after keeping their generator inside a closed garage, according to Titusville officials.

Twenty more people, including five children, were taken to area hospitals Tuesday morning after a hazmat situation, as a precaution because of the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the proximity of a generator, according to the Bonita Springs Fire Rescue.

One person died and three more people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside a home, according to the Daytona Beach Fire Department. Three people died and four more were injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Orange County, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

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A 7-year-old girl died after a generator was used inside her home, according to a tweet from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Carbon monoxide from a generator is also suspected in the death of a man in Miami, and authorities say another dozen people were treated for carbon monoxide on Tuesday in Polk and Brevard counties.

Four families suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after keeping running generators in closed garages in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, according to the Department of Health.


(Photo/lisafx/Getty Images)

In the event of an extended power outage, such as during Irma, having a generator at home can be a huge advantage. However, it can cause serious harm or even death if used incorrectly.

Portable generators produce as much carbon monoxide as hundreds of cars. They have the potential to kill a person within minutes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Carbon monoxide poisoning sends more than 20,000 people to the emergency room each year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Due to the risks, generators should never be operated anywhere inside a home, including in garages or basements. Generators should be at least 30 feet away from your home and should operate only in dry areas.

There are a number of other safety tips that can help prevent harm.

Generator safety tips infographic

AccuWeather provides more generator safety tips to prevent these tragedies.

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