Bracing the Storm: Generator Safety During Hurricane Season

APPartner’s Dr. Jeremy Finkelstein was interviewed in
The Wall Street Journal to discuss the possible dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of portable generators during storms. With hurricane season in full strength, the usage of these generators are at a high, with possible negative consequences for their users.

This in-depth article reviews how generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, what the effects are, how common it is, and tips for people to stay safe. Dr. Finkelstein provides valuable medical facts as well as advice on this somewhat common issue.

An excerpt of this article is below.

“How can generators cause carbon-monoxide poisoning?

Nearly any form of combustion, from car engines to cigarettes, releases carbon-monoxide gas, or CO, as a byproduct—including portable generators, says Jeremy Finkelstein, an emergency-room doctor at the Houston Methodist hospital system. When someone turns on a generator indoors, CO builds up quickly and can sicken an entire household in minutes to hours, depending on the concentration.

Incidents in the South frequently follow hurricanes, Dr. Finkelstein says, when people use portable generators to power fans and air conditioners at night during power outages. Asleep, victims may not notice feeling sick before the odorless gas has severely depleted the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Many victims never wake up.

What should people do to stay safe?

The CPSC recommends that people place carbon-monoxide alarms on each level of their home and near each sleeping area. Without such alarms, many people with CO poisoning don’t guess right away why they are feeling sick, Dr. Finkelstein says. A good clue is when multiple household members become ill at once. Because symptoms are similar to those of the flu or even Covid-19, diagnosis can be a challenge.”

To read this piece in its entirety, please visit The Wall Street Journal.