Staying safe while staying warm - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Staying safe while staying warm

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The forecast calls for more snow just after our region was hit by an ice storm that caused thousands to lose power. The Plattsburgh Fire Department warns about the potential risks of using generators or space heaters.

"It's usually only related with the operation of equipment run by fossil fuels," Plattsburgh Fire Lt. Shawn Clark said.

Generators are not only fire hazards, but they emit carbon monoxide-- a colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas. Inhaling it can cause nausea, sleepiness, vision problems, confusion and even death.

Experts say generators should always be operated outside any home.

"I put mine in a cellar-way and block it off so no fumes can get in the house," said Mike Dann of Curtis Lumber.

Hardware stores are seeing their generators sell out fast. And customers may also want to consider picking up a carbon monoxide detector. They are sold for as little as $20.

"Carbon monoxide sources vary widely and whether you have a potential source in your home or not, you should always have a carbon monoxide detector because it's your only defense," Clark said.

In addition to generators, Plattsburgh fire officials say blocked furnace exhaust pipes can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Vents can become obstructed by ice or snow in the wintertime, and homeowners should be sure to keep those pipes clear.

Clark says it's pretty common for his department to receive 911 calls related to carbon monoxide detectors going off.

"Thankfully, most in this area are due to low batteries, but we do have increased call volume related to carbon monoxide any time we have severe weather and people are using generators for the first time," Clark said.

Fire officials warn while using a gas-powered generator or space heater to stay warm, also use a carbon monoxide detector to stay safe.

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