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By Matthew Segura Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 4:37 PM EDT

CALCASIEU, La. (KNOE) – Officials are now reporting 10 deaths in Louisiana linked to Hurricane Laura. Half of those deaths are being connected to improper generator use.

Officials said on Friday that five members of one household died of carbon monoxide poisoning produced by their generator. Lake Charles Fire Chief Shawn Caldwell said the generator was running in an attached garage and a door was open.

According to State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, a generator can emit carbon monoxide equal to six idling cars. The gas is odorless and deadly — which is why it is known as a silent killer. Generators must be kept away from your home. They cannot be indoors or in a covered area where the gas can accumulate.

While power generators are useful, it’s very important to follow safety precautions when using them.

  • Never run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas such as garages.
  • Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating, and keep the generator far away from any opening of the home to keep out carbon monoxide.
  • Do not start or stop the generator while it’s providing power to anything.
  • Always use fresh fuel.
  • Make sure all extension cords are outdoor-rated.
  • Do not operate the generator in rain or flooded areas to avoid accidental electrocution.
  • And never connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet.

Remember, all gas, diesel, propane and natural gas generators produce carbon monoxide. If the generator is not in a well-ventilated area, toxic levels of this colorless, odorless gas can build up quickly. Carbon monoxide claims hundreds of lives a year and makes thousands more ill. It is recommended to use generators outside and more than 20 feet away from home, doors and windows.

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