BARTOW, Fla. - Two people were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning following improper generator use, and Polk County officials say additional incidents have been reported.
Both incidents, one in southwest Lakeland and the other in Lake Alfred, both involved generators running in an enclosed garage.
There have been at least a dozen cases of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms in the Tampa Bay area, according to the Florida Poison Information Center.
"Portable generators are useful during power outages, but improper use can be risky," officials said in a statement. "The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution and fire hazards. Cooking in enclosed areas with gas grills is also extremely dangerous."
Officials provided tips on how generators should be used:
- Generators and gas grills should be operated in well-ventilated locations, outdoors, away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
- Never use a generator or gas grill in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
- Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
- Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled. Store the containers outside of living areas. Propane tanks should also be turned off when not in use and stored outdoors.
- Do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system without a licensed electrician providing a means to connect. Improper wiring creates the danger of back feeding the power system, energizing downed lines and fatally electrocuting anyone that contacts those lines.
Carbon monoxide has no color or smell, and portable generators can produce high levels very quickly, officials said.
Those who start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator should get fresh air immediately.