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Be careful with portable generators, expert says

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Tropical weather systems like Hurricane Dennis leave some hidden dangers behind. Among them is carbon monoxide poisoning from using portable generators improperly, said a University of Georgia expert.

"Really and truly, we're trying to raise as much awareness about this as possible," said Gina Peek, a housing program assistant with the UGA Extension Service. "If you can avoid it, don't use (a generator) at all."

As the hurricane season rolls on, "if a storm comes through and you lose power, go to a shelter," she said.

Peek does give tips for those who do plan to use a generator when the power goes out.

  1. Read the instructions.

  2. Wait until the storm subsides before turning it on. Never use a generator in wet weather.

  3. Put the generator on a dry, flat surface as far away from the home as possible. Use a rated extension cord to take electricity back into a home. Never place a generator near a door or window, even if they're closed, or in a garage.

  4. Before touching the generator, make sure your hands are dry and you're not standing in water.

  5. Never plug the extension cord running from the generator into an outlet in the house. This causes the electricity to flow backwards and could electrocute someone in the house or in another home.
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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