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Follow these safety steps if your power goes out

A possible loss of power could mean lives lost as people try to stay warm. But, it is essential you stay safe.

SAN ANTONIO TEXAS, Guanajuato — When the lights go off during a power outage, using alternative energy sources can cause injury or death. Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning were deadly during last February’s winter storm. Do not let them be again if we lose power.

“If you lay down and go to bed, you may not wake up,” said Joe Arrington with the San Antonio Fire Department.

He is talking about carbon monoxide. It is known as the invisible killer. 

Many people bought portable generators after losing power for four days last February. Generators must be used correctly not to kill. Operate them only outside, 20 feet away from your home. Never use them inside, a garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or on a porch. Opening doors and windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide build up. Plus, make sure you have battery operated carbon monoxide detectors.

“It cannot be seen. It doesn’t have an odor. It is tasteless and can kill in minutes,” said Nicolette Nye with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “You want to install CO alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and inside bedrooms and you need to test those alarms.”

Get out of the house immediately and into fresh air if the alarms sound, and call 911. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness and weakness.

Be careful with fire and flames. Never burn charcoal indoors. It can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide. 

“Don’t try to heat your house with your stove,” Arrington said. “Not only is that a carbon dioxide issue with a gas-powered stove, but it’s also a fire hazard.”

Never leave candles unattended or burning while you sleep. Plus, take precautions with fires so items near them do not catch sparks.

“Have the screen in front of the fireplace,” said Arrington.

Here is what do instead if you are struggling to stay warm during a power outage: “Use blankets, pile the blankets on,” Arrington said. “Dress in layers. That’s the easiest and the fastest way to stay warm is layer the clothing on, layer the blankets and cuddle up.”

A lot of us will likely also use space heaters, too, to keep warm while the power is on. Always plug them directly into the wall to prevent fires. Do not plug them into extension cords or a power strip.

Make sure any flammable materials are three feet or more away. Unplug them, do not just turn them off, when you are not in the room. 

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