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Red Cross Urges People In The Northeast To Use Generators Safely


The power is still out for many people across the Northeast after the recent snowstorm and some may not see electricity restored until sometime this weekend. Almost 3,700 people spent Tuesday night in shelters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. Red Cross workers are offering a warm place to stay and hot meals to those affected by the snowstorm.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is posing a major threat as many without electricity are turning to gas-powered generators to provide some power to their home. In Connecticut, state health officials reported more than 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in a single day.

The American Red Cross has steps people should take to use these generators safely. For instance, connect the equipment to be powered directly to the outlets on the generator, Do not connect a portable generator to the home’s electrical system. Other safety tips include:

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-­burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
  • Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • When purchasing a generator, get advice from a professional such as electrician. Make sure the generator is rated for the power needed.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Storm causes blood drives to be cancelled.

The early winter storm also forced the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the area, resulting in more than 700 blood donations unable to be collected. The Red Cross is asking those who are eligible to schedule an appointment to donate as soon as possible.

To give blood, individuals must be 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and be in generally good health. People should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.

If someone is eligible and would like to give blood, they can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and schedule a donation appointment.

The power may be out for several more days in the Northeast. Those affected can visit www.redcross.org for more information on what to do in their neighborhood until electricity is returned; how to keep their food safe; what to do with electrical equipment and more.