TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Eight people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning Tuesday in Titusville after leaving their generator running in the garage all night, officials with the Titusville Fire Department said.
Paramedics responded to a home on Gayle Avenue at 8 a.m. Tuesday for a call about possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It wasn't the smartest decision, but at the end of the day, I could have thought a little more about the ventilation, but I thought I had it cleared," homeowner Albert Mattern said. "I thought that I had more than enough ventilation for everybody. I guess not."
Mattern and seven of his family members were sleeping inside the home Monday night. For fear that someone would steal the generator, he said, he put it in the garage.
He thought he had ventilated the area well by opening windows and the garage door and keeping a fan on to circulate the air. But it wasn't enough.
"It's just everybody's carbon monoxide count was high," Mattern said.
He and the rest of his family were taken to a local hospital to be treated.
"Considering it was running overnight while they were sleeping, who knows what aroused them, but whatever it was, they should be thankful for that because typically in a situation like this, no one in the family would have known it or been conscious or aware enough to understand what was going on and very likely could have died," Titusville Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Sutton said.
Mattern's son, Josh, slept at a friend's house Monday night. He told News 6 he's grateful he did. He was told by a neighbor Tuesday morning about what happened at his house.
"Everyone on the front porch, sick, dizzy. My grandpa was sitting in the chair shaking," Josh said.
Mattern is hoping he and his family will be released from the hospital by Wednesday. The eight victims were taken to Parish Medical Center after, first responders said, they were experiencing headaches, nausea and weakness, which are common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Hurricane Irma caused significant damage in Brevard County on Sunday and Monday, snapping power poles and leaving most of the county without power.
Titusville fire officials said carbon monoxide poisoning will be a problem with the power being out. Generators should not be run inside a home, including in the garage, or near any windows and doors.
Additionally, Polk County officials said there were two separate carbon monoxide incidents reported. The first incident took place at a home in Lakeland. The second occurred in Lake Alfred. Officials said in both incidents a generator was running near a closed garage.
Joe Strada, from Strada Electric, told News 6 there are some important things to remember when it comes to generator safety:
1. Always keep the generator outside and at least 20 feet from any open window or door.
2. Make sure you keep a clear, 3-foot radius around the generator.
3. Never use a generator inside.
Taking these steps should better prepare you for whatever weather comes your way.