Department of Consumer Protection Offers Storm Safety Reminders for the Home
HARTFORD, August 26 -- Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein is reminding the public of potential dangers if this weekend’s expected severe weather knocks out electricity. He also urges residents to remember food safety in case of a power outage.
“The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases whenever people use gas-powered generators,” Commissioner Rubenstein said today. “From 1999 to 2010, nearly 600 generator-related deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, mostly as a result of someone using a generator inside the home, in the basement or the garage.”
Commissioner Rubenstein urged consumers to pay attention to the following home safety concerns in the coming days.
· Portable generators - Never use a generator inside your home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside, about 10 feet away from windows, doors and vents. Make sure the wind isn’t blowing the generator’s fumes back toward your house. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.
· Charcoal grills and camp stoves - Never use these indoors. Burning charcoal or a camp stove in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
· Flammable liquids - Don’t store any flammable liquids, including gasoline or lighter fluid, near your generator or portable grill.
· CO alarms - Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms immediately outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home to protect against CO poisoning. Change the batteries every year.
· Candles - If possible, use flashlights instead of candles. If you must use them, never leave them burning unattended.
· Electrical and gas safety - Stay away from any downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage. If you are standing in water, do not handle or operate electrical appliances. If your basement is flooded, don’t walk through the water –electrocution could result. Electrical components, including circuit breakers, wiring in the walls and outlets that have been under water should not be turned on. They should be replaced unless properly inspected and tested by a qualified electrician.
· Wet valves - Natural gas or propane valves that have been under water should be replaced. Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open. Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
· Sump pump - Before the storm arrives, check the pump to be sure that it’s operating properly. Lift the float to see if it activates the pump’s motor.
· Profiteering - If you feel you are being charged an unconscionably high price for any storm-related service or item, please report it to the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649.
· Repairs - To help protect yourself against getting taken by a dishonest contractor, be sure that anyone you hire for cleanup or repairs is licensed and/or registered with the Department of Consumer Protection by going to www.ct.gov and selecting “Verify a License.”
Power losses can also affect the safety of food.
- Your refrigerator will keep foods cool for about four hours without power, if it is unopened. Add block or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity will be off longer than four hours.
- To be safe, remember, "When in doubt, throw it out."
- Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
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