Awareness programs are needed
By Sandy H. Straus
Posted December 12
Hurricane Katrina, generators soared in popularity.
As a result of Hurricane Wilma, there was an
unprecedented demand for generators and containers
of gasoline to fuel them.
It seemed as if safety was compromised when at least
12 percent of the Hurricane Wilma-related deaths
were attributed to generator misuse.
Most generators require gasoline to operate.
Gasoline is a highly flammable liquid that has the
capacity to harm us as much as it helps us. Gasoline
mishandling accounts for thousands of deaths and
injuries each year across the country.
Gasoline fumes may ignite or explode, especially
when a source of ignition, such as a cigarette,
electrical arc, flame, hot equipment, static
electricity, or chemical, is introduced. (Even cell
phone usage may pose a potential hazard.)
In an enclosed space, colorless, odorless and lethal
concentrations of carbon monoxide can quickly
develop. For these reasons, battery-powered carbon
monoxide detectors and smoke detectors should be
mandatorily sold with each generator.
Some concerned politicians are now introducing bills
that would provide tax credits for associations,
businesses, homeowners and select communities to
purchase and install generators. As long as
generators are promoted to endure the long power
outages associated with hurricanes and other
disasters, then new legislation and multilingual
educational awareness programs are needed to ensure
the safety of those with and around generators and
gasoline use, transportation and storage.
City, county, and state policies must be revised in
order to prevent further injuries and deaths that
will continue to result from the misuse of
generators and the mishandling of gasoline. Until
then, these safety threats will remain in our
Sandy H. Straus, president and senior engineer of
ESRA Consulting Corporation, is the author of
several government reports and holds a dual
contractor's license in explosives engineering
(residential and commercial blasting).