VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - As strong storms start to develop in the tropics, many people may start buying generators in case of emergencies, but it's important to learn about generator safety before making the big purchase.
"You never, ever want to use a generator on the inside of your house or in a garage," Home Depot worker Timothy Miller said. "Even if the windows are open and there is ventilation, you never use it inside."
Pat Akers learned that the hard way during hurricane Irene last year. He says he has owned generators before and put them in the garage. Last year, he opened the windows of his home thinking the fumes would blow out.
"Unfortunately the way the storm came in, instead of causing a vacuum to suck the fumes out, it actually pulled the fumes in and filled the house with [carbon monoxide]," Akers said.
Akers says he remembers the night Irene passed through.
"It was blurry and [I] walked out, was heading out to the garage to check the generator and fell down the stairs," Akers said. "I remember falling, but I don't remember getting back up."
His neighbor found him passed out in the driveway. Akers was rushed to the hospital where he spent close to four hours in a hyperbolic chamber getting the carbon monoxide out of his system.
"Mr. Akers is a very lucky man to be standing here today," Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Riley said. "He never knew those symptoms were coming. Carbon monoxide is a silent, deadly killer."
Akers describes his ordeal as more of a miracle.
"I was very fortunate," Akers said.
Miller says like generators, chainsaws seem to fly off the shelves during hurricane season. He recommends wearing chaps to protect your legs and a helmet to protect your face and head if you end up using a chainsaw. He also recommends buying a chainsaw far ahead enough to know how to use it once disaster does strike.
"Nothing's wrong with goggles, but the problem with [them] is they're just going to protect your eyes. That's a major part," Miller said. "It's not protecting the rest of your face, so a face shield is recommended for most chainsaws if you're actually cutting heavy debris."
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