After Sandy: Generators & Your Basement

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCWashington.com

    With trees down and tens of thousands of people without power in our region, we want to make sure folks are riding out the aftermath of Sandy in the safest manner possible.

    If your power did go out and you’re using a backup generator, don’t even think about using it in your home. This morning, three people in Laurel were rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning, and officials blamed the generator inside their house.

    The danger here is that generators emit deadly carbon monoxide gas -- and the levels of CO can become deadly within minutes. CO has the nickname “the silent killer” because you can’t see or smell it.

    Follow the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s advice, and never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawlspace, shed. Opening doors and windows won’t help: generators must be set up outside, far away from doors, windows and vents.

    Another problem plaguing our area is wet or flooded basements. To get things back to normal, begin by trying to fix the problem yourself. Kill the power in your basement before heading down, especially if the water was high or over any electrical outlets. If your circuit breakers are in the basement, call an electrician.

    WATCH: Wet Basement: Don't Get Soaked!

    Next, find the drains in the floor of your basement and outside stairwell. Then push the water toward those drains. If the water is more than two inches deep, rent a submersible pump to pump out the water. After that, get air moving by bringing in large fans. You could also rent a dehumidifier to help dry out the soggy mess.

    For more information on generator safety, visit the Consumer Reports site.