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EPA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

02/17/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/17/2021 13:24

Arctic Cold Causing Rolling Blackouts in Heartland

News Releases from Region 07

EPA reminds families to beware of deadly indoor air from portable generators and other portable sources for heating, cooking and lighting

02/17/2021

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Lenexa, Kan., Feb. 17, 2021) - As the arctic cold is causing rolling blackouts here in the Heartland, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 reminds communities, families and businesses to be aware of potential sources that can create dangerous and even deadly indoor air quality.

Portable generators, and other sources for heating, cooking and lighting can all cause dangerous indoor air quality during a power outage.

Portable Generators

Always operate portable generators according to the instructions and always run them outside, far away from buildings. Running a portable generator inside or too close to your home can lead to injury or death from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Never use a portable generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas. Deadly levels of CO can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator is shut off. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person, depending on age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure.

Heating and Cooking

During a power outage, do not try to heat your home by using combustion appliances, such as gas stoves or ovens, barbeque grills or dryers. Never operate any gas-burning heater or other appliance in a poorly vented or closed room, or where you are sleeping. Combustion appliances produce toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide (CO). While you shouldn't use any kind of combustion appliance, there are ways to cook indoors during a power outage. You can use a vented fireplace or a vented wood or other fuel burning stove if it is set up for cooking.

Lighting

Use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns if available. If you use candles, make sure the area is ventilated since candles emit combustion products and, if left unattended, can be a fire hazard.

For more information on indoor air quality safety during emergencies, please visit EPA's website.

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