Last summer, a man in Ellicott City, Md., died of carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator when power was knocked out by Hurricane Irene. Local officials are trying to prevent a repeat of that tragedy in the wake of powerful storms Friday that cut off local electricity.

Members of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services have been canvassing neighborhoods to check on people and offer them safety tips about using generators, according to the Baltimore Sun.,0,886851.story

On Monday an Ellicott City resident reported that he was suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Sun reported. Firefighters found that the man had put a generator outside the rear of his house, and high levels of carbon monoxide were found in his home.

Then on Monday, the canvassing discovered an Ellicott City home that had its back door open, with a generator running outside. High levels of carbon monoxide were found in that dwelling, according to the Sun.

Fire officials are using the power blackout as a teachable moment. They are telling residents and business owners to install carbon monoxide detectors, first of all. Then fire officials are warning residents that generators have to be placed outside in a ventilated area, far away from doors, vents and windows, and that they shouldn’t be placed in attached garages, even if the door is left open, according to the Sun.


How many times has this tragedy played out this winter, one of the worse the country has seen in many years?

Four people, a mother and her three children, died of carbon monoxide poisoning last week in Toledo, Ohio.

They were living in a rented house with no heat or electricity, and were using a gas-powered generator to run a space heater, according to published reports.

The deceased were Tamara McDonald, 39; Damien Reyes, 18; Domonique Reyes, 16; and Taralynn Wood, 10. Their bodies were discovered Wednesday on the first floor of their house on Hamilton Street.

The family’s pet dog was also killed by the poisonous carbon monoxide gas.

This scene has happened again and again this winter. Lesson to be learned: Do not used gas-powered generators inside a home to heat it.