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Generators Poison Family, Start Fire In Glenview

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Generator

A gasoline-powered generator. (Credit: KCAL/CBS)

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GLENVIEW, Ill. (CBS) — Officials have issued a warning to everyone who has, or is using, a generator during the power outages that stemmed from the storms Monday.

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, firefighters had two dangerous situations involving generators within blocks of each other.

In the first incident Tuesday, five people between the ages of 14 and 54 were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, after being found in the 600 block of Greendale Road, Glenview fire officials told TribLocal. The victims, identified by Patch.com as the Sulski family, were taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

Their generator was operating in a garage, and should have been outside, Habermehl reported. Fire officials believe the fumes seeped into the family’s house, resulting in a dangerous carbon monoxide concentration of 600 parts per million, TribLocal reported.

Rob Sulski told Patch.com the generator was positioned away from the family’s home, but a portable air conditioning unit might have drawn the poisonous gas in. He told the Web site the family became alarmed when everyone was getting up to urinate frequently in the night, then began getting headaches.

Just blocks away from that incident, a house caught fire later in the day after a generator either overheated or set fire to combustible materials nearby, Habermehl reported.

Generators must be used with extreme and utmost care. Most importantly, they cannot be operated inside, Habermehl says.

If they are, carbon monoxide will likely emanate, and as it is colorless and odorless, it may go undetected.

Carbon monoxide combines so readily with the hemoglobin in the blood that it crowds out the oxygen, and starves the body of the necessary element. This will quickly cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness.

First responders will administer pure oxygen to battle carbon monoxide poisoning.

Habermehl says if you feel dizzy or nauseated, get outside. Also, play it safe – keep your generators outside and away from combustible materials, read the manufacturer’s instructions, and watch the oil levels so the motors don’t overheat.

Habermnehl says the generators have been doing yeoman’s service so far, but they’re not designed to run day after day after day.

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