About 45 people were brought to the hospital after a carbon monoxide poisoning at a wedding reception in Madison, WI. The reception was evacuated, and Metro bus was the medical staging area for guests who felt sick. The source of the carbon monoxide was a generator that was brought inside to power the band.

These products are often used in severe weather as a source of backup power. When not used properly, as in the case of the Madison, WI wedding reception, the product can emit toxic levels of carbon monoxide. The gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

In addition to reacquainting yourself with your generator’s features and safe operating instructions, The Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association had these safety tips for using a generator.

Keep the operating manual in a safe place, so you can easily refer to it when you need to.

When using a generator, always “Take it Outside,” so dangerous levels of carbon monoxide don’t accumulate in the home. Avoid using it in garages, crawlspaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.

Place the generator downwind, and never point it towards an occupied area.

Do not place a generator near doors, windows, or vents, because the toxic carbon monoxide gas could be drawn inside.

Be sure to install working, battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Also be sure to test the alarm and replace the batteries regularly to make sure it will notify you in the event of a carbon monoxide poisoning.

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, so that you can recognize it in an emergency. These symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness and fainting.

If you feel sick or dizzy while you are operating a portable generator, get to fresh air immediately and call 911 for emergency medical attention.

If you take heed to these safety instructions, you should be safe operating your portable generator.

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