Hurricane Sandy is continuing to kill people on the East Coast.

No, I’m not talking about people hit by falling trees, or any one else drowning. I’m referring to carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. So far in New Jersey alone, at least five people have died by being poisoned by the lethal gas, which came from gas- or diesel-fueled generators, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Unfortunately, such tragedies often happen when people turn to generators in emergency situations, when they lose power and want to keep warm. With statewide power outages in New Jersey, and cold weather, residents and businesses have fired up generators while unaware of, or ignoring, the warnings about operating such devices.

Here’s the takeaway: Generators need to be operated outside, as far away from a residence, or any nearby residence, as possible. Officials in New Jersey are also warning residents not to use gas ovens, stoves or grills to heat their homes, according to The Ledger. They also pose a threat of causing carbon monoxide poisoning.

The carbon monoxide death count includes Rafael Reyes, a 55-year-old New Brunswick man, who The Ledger reported was found dead in his kitchen Thursday. A generator was on in his basement.

Gracie Dunston, a 59-year-old Trenton woman, was killed and seven members of her family fell ill from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to The Ledger. They had a generator and a propane heater on their first floor.

A man in Edison who had a generator on in his garage died this week. And finally, two 19-year-old Newark women, Mudiwa Benson and Kenya Barber, were killed Thursday by carbon monoxide from a generator that was operating close to their apartment window, The Ledger reported.

Steven Marcus, the director of New Jersey’s poison control center, told The Ledger that his office has been deluged with calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning.

And there will likely be more deaths due to the treacherous gas, because many residents in the Tri-State area are still without power.


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.


Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that last weekend’s freak snowstorm in the Northeast, which knocked out power for days in New Jersey and Connecticut, would end up killing people. Or perhaps rather, that carbon monoxide would wind up killing people. And so it happened.

An elderly couple, Robert Stephens, 84, and his wife Susanna, 79, were discovered dead in their home in Holland Township, N.J. They had been without electricity for almost a week, and were found by a Jersey Central Power & Light  contractor, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Authorities believe that the married couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator they had running in their garage to heat their home.

Middle Atlantic officials agree that the weekend snowstorm did much more damage than Hurricane Irene back at the end of August. The snowstorm packed a real whammy, downing trees and branches whose leaves — not fallen yet — couldn’t bear the weight of the heavy wet snow.

That lead to the downing of power lines, depriving residents of heat during frosty fall weather. People scrambled to find other ways to heat their homes, be it with fire pits or gas generators, or even firing up charcoal grills and propane burners inside their homes, according to The Journal.

But those alternatives to electrically produced heat all pose the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Journal reported that Connecticut officials had gotten more than 200 calls about carbon monoxide poisoning since the Oct. 30 snowstorm.

In the case of the Garden State, “11 callers to New Jersey’s poison control center were later hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure,” according to The Journal.  

Unfortunately, the Stephens never made such a call.  

Thousands of homeowners in the U. S. purchase backup power generators in case their electrical power is interrupted.  A significant and potentially fatal to humans and pets problem continually occurs with each severe storm and the use of gasoline and diesel generators.  The problem is that generators emit carbon monoxide.  Some generator owners fail to use the potentially life-saving machinery properly, but instead misuse them and turn them into life-threatening machines.

Serious injury and death in reports out of Maryland in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene indicate that no less than six people have been hospitalized and one person died due to carbon monoxide poisoning because they operated their gas or diesel powered generators indoors, either in their houses or garages, without proper ventilation.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is a major contributor to Traumatic Brain Injury.

Below is a link describing proper use of generators.

Here’s a scene that will be played out again and again during the winter when poor people’s electricity is turned off.

Four family members were found dead in their Oakhurst, Calif., home Sunday, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.

 The victims were Diana Montoya, 60; Bruce John Frederick Hargett, 35; Alexis Montoya, 10; and Jayden Montoya, 8, according to the Associated Press.

A sheriff’s department official said that carbon monoxide fumes from a gas-powered generator did in the family, whose electricity was shut off  last week.

A fan that was supposed to whisk the fumes from the generator out of the home wasn’t plugged in, according to authorities. And two of the home’s external crawl space vents were covered with insulation, AP reported.      

 In an unusual case, a landlord in Long Island, N.Y., is about to stand trial for criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of three tenants who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

 It’s not every day that a prosecutor files criminal charges in a case of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning,  but that’s what happened in Long Island, where Wilson Milford, 52, of Brentwood, N.Y., will be tried in Suffolk County Court. 

He is accused of killing three people who lived in a house he owned in West Babylon, and where he had installed a gas-powered generator.  On Nov. 20, 2007  Tanisha Armstrong, 24, her daughter Talani Johnson, 4, and a neighbor, Ricardo Pierce, 27, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from fumes from that generator. 

On Monday Judge James Hudson told Milford that he would have to represent himself during jury selection for his trial. The judge issued that order after Milford’s attorney, Albert Dayan, resigned. Dayan told the court that he and Milford had disagreements about the fee the lawyer would receive and over a plea bargain offer that Milford turned down.

Milford has had several lawyers, and the judge accused him of being difficult so that Dayan would resign — and the trial would therefore have to be postponed. 

So the judge said Milford will have to act as his own counsel during jury selection, which was set to start Wednesday. But Milford will have a lawyer to serve as his legal advisor at jury selection.

Judge Hudson also said that Milford may also have to act as his own counsel during his trial.   

When you don’t have any electricity, I guess you don’t think about the potential danger of using a portable generator in your home. But you should, as a family in the Mohawk Valley area of New York found out last week.

Some 11 family members were sent to the hospital suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after a basement generator released the potentially lethal fumes.

Those  in the Amsterdam, N.Y., home, who were ages seven to 24 years old, had to get treated at the hospital after firefighters were sent to the scene at 4 a.m. last Wednesday. The rescuers were called in when a child in the house, which was getting its electricity from the generator, woke up vomiting. 

The power company National Grid had cut off electricity to the residence.

After being treated at a local hospital, two of the group were later transferred to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y.




Two teenagers found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in their pickup truck in Scottsdale, Ariz., had just participated in a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competition.

Mike Hillman and Jesse Andrus, both 18-year-old high school seniors from Roswell, N.M., had traveled to Arizona last weekend to compete in the Fiesta Days Rodeo in Cave Creek, Ariz. Hillman won the saddle bronc riding competition, his first win ever in a PRCA rodeo. It was the first PRCA rodeo that Andrus competed in.

Hillman and Andrus had been scheduled to return home to New Mexico on Monday. When they didn’t show up, their parents reported them missing.

Scottsdale police found both young men dead in the camper shell of their truck, which was parked in a Safeway parking lot. Police suspect that the youths had a generator running at night, and that it emitted carbon monoxide fumes that killed the pair.

Goddard High School in Roswell, which Hillman and Andrus attended, has brought in a crisis intervention team to help students cope with the deaths.

Two teenagers from Roswell, N.M., died inside the camper shell of a pickup truck in Scottsdale, Ariz., of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to The Arizona Republic.

The two victims, Jesse Andrus and Michael Hillman, both 18, had traveled to Carefree, Ariz., for a rodeo last weekend.

They were both found Monday in their truck. Scottsdale police believe that the youths had been running a generator in the rear of their vehicle to keep warm.

The teens’ parents in Roswell had expected them back home on Sunday, and they apparently contacted Scottsdale police Monday morning when the youths didn’t return.

Using a telephone GPS, police located the teens’ truck, which was parked in a shopping-center lot near Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak Road. Authorities forced their way into the camper shell, and found Andrus and Hillman dead.



It is another generator run indoors case.

Three people died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after being found unconscious on a houseboat in Huntington Harbor, Long Island, N.Y.

The three unidentified victims – two men and a woman — were found on the houseboat at 9 pm. Tuesday, according to Suffolk County police. They had gotten a 911 call to come to the houseboat.
They were transported to Huntington Hospital, and were pronounced dead there.

Autopsies will be done to confirm the cause of death. There were no signs of foul play, according to police. A police detective told the newspaper Newsday that the three people were believed to have been overcome by fatal carbon monoxide fumes. There was a gasoline-powered generator on the boat.

Two police officer who had responded to the scene had to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Over and over we say it here, but sadly it doesn’t get heard elsewhere: engines cannot be run indoors, even if the power is out. For more on the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning go to