Fumes from a portable generator that was too close to an Irving Avenue building forced the evacuation of 30 residents Wednesday night, according to the Port Chester Fire Department.
The incident has led village fire officials to urge residents and business owners to use some basic, common-sense safety precautions as Port Chester copes with the massive power outages that have come from Hurriance Sandy damage.
"We don't have power, but we are a lot better off than a lot of other places," said Port Chester Fire Chief Kevin McFadden. "We want to make sure we don't have any unnecessary loss of life."
McFadden said a portable generator placed too close to 138 Irving Ave. on Wednesday created dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the building. McFadden said 30 residents were evacuated and firefighters used heavy-duty fans to clear the building of fumes.
In the 9:34 p.m. incident, firefighters and Port Chester police went door-to-door to clear the building. They forced their way into several apartments to ensure that everyone was safely out of the building.
Residents were allowed to return to the building after about 40 minutes, police said. McFadden said the generator was being used by a business owner to maintain his inventory. Police said there were also other generators being used nearby.
As a result of this incident, McFadden urged that Port Chester residents and business owners to take some basic safety steps to avoid tragedy. Port Chester Village Manager Christopher Steers also said officials are concerned about residents using open flames to heat their homes.
"Our concern right now is the drop in temperature," Steers said. "We are warning all those individuals that have generators not to have them inside the structure due to the real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, we are also warning individuals that need heat to avoid using open flames within structures, do not use their ovens to heat their homes, and if they have generators do not overload them."
Here are basic safety tips offered by emergency officials:
- If you have a generator, never use it indoors.
- Place generators at least 25 feet from any structure.
- Use insulated, heavy-duty power cords for generator connections. Do not use light, household extension cords.
- Check power cords to make certain they are not overheating.
- Only place generators on solid, stable land.
- Do not place generators neary anything combustable, like trash, propane tanks, debris, building materials.
- Check the batteries in your carbon monixide and smoke detectors to make sure they are good. (If detectors are old and you're not sure if they work, replace them immediately)
- Be careful using candles and lanterns.
- Do not leave lit candles unattended.
- Make sure candles are placed on level, solid surfaces.
- Use extreme caution in placing candles in areas where there are children and pets.
In case of emergency, dial 911. If a candle falls over and starts a fire, or if there is an emergency created by a generator, call 911 and get everyone in the area to safety.
Here are more safety tips:
The Westchester County Department of Health is alerting residents and businesses with generators, camp cook stoves, and chain saws to only operate them out of doors. They produce carbon monoxide and can be a source of CO poisoning. During a power outage, generators can be dangerous if not used properly. Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes!
- Never use a generator inside your house or in partly enclosed areas such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces, or sheds, or in partly-enclosed spaces such as carports or breezeways – even if windows are open.
- Generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows. Carbon monoxide in the generator's fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death.
- Place generators outside, far away and downwind from any buildings. One study demonstrated that 15 feet was not far enough to prevent a build-up of CO inside the home.
- Never use a natural gas or propane stove/oven to heat your home.
- If you use a kerosene heater, use 1-K grade kerosene only. Never substitute with fuel oil, diesel, gasoline or yellow (regular) kerosene.
- Open a window to provide ventilation when a portable kerosene heater is in use to reduce carbon monoxide fumes inside the home.
- Fuel-powered tools and equipment, such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, and pressure-washers, emit CO. Never start or operate these devices in an enclosed space such as a garage.
- When adding fuel to a space heater, or wood to a wood stove or fireplace, wear non-flammable gloves and clothing.
- Never add fuel to a space heater when it is hot. The fuel can ignite, burning you and your home.
- Keep the heater away from objects that can burn, such as furniture, rugs or curtains.
- If you have a fire extinguisher, keep it nearby.
- Be careful with candles—never leave them burning if you leave the room.
- Keep children away from space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid accidental burns.
- Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading your generator can damage it and any appliances connected to it. Fire may result.
- Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion.
- If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
Alternate Heating/Cooking Sources
· If you plan to cook on a barbeque grill or camp stove, remember these also produce carbon monoxide and are for outdoor use only. · If you use a fireplace, wood stove, or portable kerosene heater to stay warm, be sure there is adequate ventilation to the outside. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home. Tools and Equipment
· When adding fuel to a space heater, or wood to a wood stove or fireplace, wear non-flammable gloves and clothing.
· Never add fuel to a space heater when it is hot. The fuel can ignite, burning you and your home.
· Keep the heater away from objects that can burn, such as furniture, rugs or curtains.
· If you have a fire extinguisher, keep it nearby.
· Be careful with candles—never leave them burning if you leave the room.
· Keep children away from space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid accidental burns.