Close Calls with Carbon Monoxide in Ellicott City
HCDFRS reminds residents to stay safe when using generators.
(Updated 7/3 5 p.m.)
For the third time since power outages struck Howard County, the Department of Fire and Rescue Services found a home with unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
Just before 2:30 p.m., HCDFRS crews noticed a generator on in the garage of a house on the 3800 block of Font Hill Drive, according to a statement released by spokeswoman Jackie Cutler.
Crews at first could not find the homeowner, and set about moving the generator to a safer location outside, Cutler said. As they were moving the generator, the resident came out.
Cutler said the resident is deaf and so did not hear the crews arrive.
Once she came out, crews finished moving the generator and tested for carbon monoxide. There were leathal levels of the gas in the garage, Cutler said, and found in safer levels inside the house.
The resident was not exposed to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
Earlier this week, HCDFRS crews found two homes with potentially unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in two days and as a result, Howard County Animal Control has taken possession of one resident’s dog, according to a statement released by the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.
HCDFRS has been canvassing neighborhoods this week, checking in on people since last Friday’s storm, which left tens of thousands of Howard County residents without power.
Last summer, an Ellicott City man died from carbon monoxide poisoning, which also put two of his family members in critical condition. Howard County Police said a generator had been used after Hurricane Irene took out power in the neighborhood.
As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 9,000 people are still out of power in Howard County, according to BGE.
According to a statement released by the department, crews noted a house on the 2500 block of Liter Court in Ellicott City with an open door and a generator was running. The crew knocked on the door and called the resident but, according to the statement, no one answered.
Howard County Police were called to the scene. They entered the house, and turned off the generator according to the statement; the resident wasn’t home, but a dog was in the house.
Detectors showed that the house had five times the normal level of carbon monoxide, according to HCDFRS. Animal control took the dog and officials are still trying to find the resident.
During yesterday’s detail, HCDFRS came across a resident in Ellicott City who, though he didn’t have a working carbon monoxide detector, borrowed one from his neighbor.
The detector read high levels of carbon monoxide, according to the statement; the homeowner said he had symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and confusion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The resident told crews that the carbon monoxide may have come from a generator that was outside of his house, according to the statement. His symptoms had subsided by the time crews arrived.
In its statement, HCDFRS stressed the importance of having working carbon monoxide detectors in homes and businesses, particularly because carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas.
HCDFRS crews will continue to canvass neighborhoods that remain in the dark. Residents who have concerns can call the police’s non-emergency number: 410-313-2900.
Tips for safe generator usage from HCDFRS:
- Generators should be used in well ventilated locations outside of the home and away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
- Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home. Check it regularly during power outages and make sure it has back-up batteries.
- Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.