Sumter Co. Coroner warns residents of generator dangers after death
SUMTER CO., GA (WALB) - A warning for those who are using generators while your power is out.
The Sumter County EMA director confirmed that there was a storm-related death in the area on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Director Nigel Poole, a man died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning due to a generator running in their home.
The Sumter County Coroner Greg Hancock identified the man as Gene Carter Jr.
Carter lost his power after tropical storm Irma on Monday.
It happened in the 100 block Sylvan Road.
"When the firefighters went into the house the CO levels was at 400 which is extremely high," Hancock explained.
A representative with the Georgia Poison Control said that carbon monoxide becomes toxic at 200 ppm (parts per million) and once CO levels reach that high, it can take just a matter of minutes to become harmful to a person.
Hancock said Carter was found after his cousin came by the house around 1 p.m. to help clean up the yard.
When Carter didn't answer the door, Carter's mother came to unlock the door and found her son dead inside the home.
"Your generator is not worth your life. If somebody steals it, you still got your life," Hancock remarked.
Hancock said the generator was in the utility room, 30 feet from Carter.
"It needs to be a safe distance from the house," Hancock explained.
Hancock said to keep the generator 25 feet from the house. This will keep carbon monoxide from seeping through the cracks of a home.
There are also labels on generators that state "if you use a generator indoors, it can kill you within minutes."
Hancock explained Carter stuffed a towel under the bottom of the door but it wasn't enough.
"Carbon monoxide can slip on you and you not know it's there until it's too late," Hancock reiterated.
Out of his 17-year tenure, it's the first death of its kind for him.
The news came as a shock for next door neighbor Leonora Jones who's also been in the dark since Monday morning.
"I just am so sorry and my condolences to the family," Jones remarked.
Jones almost bought a generator but didn't know how to install it, "I was not aware of the safety or the danger."
A representative from the Georgia Poison Control Center said carbon monoxide poisoning happens often after a disaster.
People bring their generators inside in fear of someone stealing it.
Hancock urges folks with generators to keep it outside at least 25 feet from your house.
For those who are concerned about CO poisoning, find out how to detect and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning on the CDC's website.
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