CO, grid power, and recognizing the dangers

“By far, the biggest killer after a blizzard is carbon monoxide poisoning,” Lavonas [associate director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver] says. “The biggest mistakes people make are using improvised heating sources and using electrical generators improperly.”

Liz Szabo says Portable generators pose safety risk after snowstorm. The same thing happens whenever there is a major grid outage.

The same issues are a concern with RV’s. This is why such things as the Camco 44461 Gen-Turi RV Generator Exhaust Venting System [Amazon affiliate link] were created. If you can’t get the genset away from your RV and downwind, then perhaps getting the exhaust up will help. Whatever you do, a properly functioning CO detector is a must.

One of our friends ran a 2kw genset in the back of a pickup truck for an oxygen concentrator overnight. He was startled with the CO alarm in the wee hours as genset CO had penetrated his trailer.

In a B-Van, the genset exhaust was run to the nearest side right under the main window. It should, at least, have been run back to the rear quarter away from any windows or vents.

Note that carbon monoxide is a cumulative poison. Alarms have to look at potential dose over time to determine when things are getting hazardous.

As for the grid, PhysOrg says Better power grid synchronization may enable smart grids to self-recover from failures.

“Although the LHC has often been called the largest machine in the world, that title may be more appropriately given to something much more familiar: power grids. Consisting of thousands of generators and substations linked across thousands of miles, these networks form the backbone of society in developed countries. Yet most of the grids that power our modern economy are based on technology from the 1960s, even though power demands have changed dramatically since then.”

If you can get around the bias that seems so common these days about everything falling apart, the story does report on some of the esoteric stuff that we depend upon for electrical power. The grid is kinda’ like a big bowl of Jell-O (Jell-O at Amazon) with all sorts of wiggling on its surface. If something big comes along, a jiggle can form that swamps things and creates havoc. The report is about new techniques that watch the surface of the Jell-O and apply counter jiggles to help keep the surface smooth and power flowing like it is supposed to.

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The thing is, to make Jell-O during a power outage really requires refrigeration and that means an alternate power source. The advice is that you want to avoid opening the refrigerator door to help keep things cold. Maybe Hot Chocolate? But that requires heat and the problem of backup heat sources in the house is another hazard. Oh, my. Just bundle up and wait it out?

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