As the April weather comes into the Maryland area we are sure to see some thunderstorms. As they say, the showers this month are sure to bring next month’s flower blossoms. There are, of course, always downsides to the stormy, spring weather. Thunderstorms often mean that electricity turns off unexpectedly. A quick fix many consider is to make use of a portable power source, known as a generator. While generators are surely an easy way to handle an electrical outage, they come with a downside of their own: they produce carbon monoxide. Recently, one Maryland family learned this lesson in a tragic series of events. The tragedy of this family reminds us all that safety during thunderstorms is nothing to take lightly.
The Todd Tragedy
Recently, a terrible event hit close to home in Princess Anne, Maryland. Eight were found dead at the home of 36-year-old Rodney Todd. Authorities responded to Todd’s home after he failed to show up for more than a week to his job at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Todd was a utility worker on campus. Once the authorities arrived, Todd was found dead, along with his five daughters and two sons. The children’s ages ranged from six to fifteen. Upon further inspection, authorities discovered that the cause of death was carbon dioxide poisoning. Evidently, after Todd’s utilities were disconnected due to non-payment, he used a generator to heat the family home. This generator caused the death of Todd and his seven children.
Although many of us will never have the experience of using a generator to power an entire home, we are likely to use one on occasion. This occasion will most likely occur after an electric outage during a storm. Generators, when used safely, can substitute for traditional power sources. Here are some tips for safely and efficiently using a portable generator this spring:
- Never use a portable generator inside your home. Generators produce carbon monoxide. Even using fans or opening doors will not prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide from a generator. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can quickly and without warning lead to death. If you feel sick or dizzy you should immediately get away from the generator to an aerated outdoor area.
- Store fuel safely. The fuel used in a generator is highly flammable. Storing the fuel improperly may lead to ignition of the fuel or even vapors from the fuel. Sparks from the electrical outlet connected to the generator itself can even light the fuel. Approved safety containers can be found by reading the generator’s manual.
- Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s power source. Doing so could cause injury to a utility lineman, even miles away from you.