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Generator fumes nearly poison a Poulsbo family

POULSBO — The time of year when winter storms visit and power generators come out of storage has officially arrived in North Kitsap.

But even so, officials from the Poulsbo Fire Department warn that any equipment used to keep electricity running and houses warm needs to be used properly to assure that residents do not have the same scare one Poulsbo family had last week.

A family of three barely escaped carbon monoxide poisoning Oct. 17 after using their generator during the season’s first gusty winter storm.

Poulsbo Fire Department crews were dispatched shortly before 5 a.m. last Friday to a Poulsbo home where residents were believed to be experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Firefighters found the three residents dizzy, nauseous and experiencing headaches.

The house had been without electricity since noon on Oct. 16 and the family had been using a propane generator in the garage to provide power. The family went to bed around 10 p.m. and left the generator running.

Firefighters believe exhaust from the generator caused the family to experience the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The three were transported to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton.

An incident like this is a heads up for residents preparing for winter storms around this time of year, said PFD fire officials.

Such preparation includes installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Alarms plugged in or hard-wired into the home need to have battery back-up in case of a power outage, officials explained. Batteries need to be changed every six months, including the hard-wired items.

Carbon Monoxide alarms are advised for any home that uses natural gas, kerosene or propane heat, furnace oil or if a generator will be used in the event of a power outage.

If a generator is used, keep it in a well-ventilated area, officials said. If it is used in the garage, keep the garage door open.

Carbon Monoxide alarms should be installed in the middle of the wall or slightly lower. Smoke alarms are to be installed higher on the wall or on the ceiling.

Carbon Monoxide is a heavy gas and lies closer to the ground, therefore requiring the alarm to be further down than a smoke alarm, officials explained.

In addition to last week’s CO call, PFD crews responded to 22 calls within the 24 hour period of Oct. 16 and 17.

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