Oklahoma City, OK — With 38% of the metro still without power, many are relying on generators to keep warm.
But there can be deadly consequences to using them. Two people in Oklahoma City recently died from carbon monoxide poisoning from using the generators to fight the ice storm power outage, fire officials say. They made the fatal error of using the generators in their homes.
“It’s just people trying to stay warm and protect themselves,” said Dr. Christopher Lentz, medical director of Integris Burn Center.
Lentz said 14 people have come into Integris hospital in the last three days with carbon monoxide-related issues due to generators not being used properly.
“If the generator is kept in an enclosed space like either inside the house, which is really dangerous, or inside a garage, there’s not enough ventilation in these enclosed structures to be able to allow the toxic fumes to get away,” he said.
Lentz said carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. It takes time for symptoms to become obvious.
“It could start off with something as simple as a headache and it can get this severe as nausea, and you can start having behavioral changes or you can lose consciousness altogether,” he said.
With many Oklahomans turning to generators after losing power this week, Lentz recommended keeping the machines outside.
“Outdoors is best, not bringing it indoors and not relying on things to evacuated like putting fans near it,” he said.
Also, he said, don’t use charcoal grills to heat homes. They can also form toxic fumes.