Titsuville family warns others about generator use after close call

5 carbon monoxide-related deaths reported across Central Florida

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Albert Mattern and his family are recovering in their Titusville home after a carbon monoxide poisoning scare Tuesday morning. 

After the family ran a generator in their garage, Mattern and his seven family members were hospitalized Tuesday. That generator now sits in the backyard outside. 

Mattern said he wants others to learn from his mistake in hopes that it will save a life. 

"Just horrible, live and learn," he said.

Mattern’s family were settling in their home Monday night after Hurricane Irma came and went, knocking out power for 5 million customers, including more than half of Brevard County. 

He said throughout the week, generators in his neighborhood were being stolen.

Having power was essential for Mattern’s grandfather who uses oxygen and depends on a CPAP machine.

For fear of not having electricity and having his generator stolen, Mattern said he set it up in his garage. 

"I feel bad for what happened. But, I mean, everybody was kind of on the same thing. We all, when you went out there you could feel the air. It wasn't like the windows were shut and we were just thinking, oh it will be fine running in here," Mattern.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and often victims do not know they have been exposed until it’s too late. 

Mattern kept his garage door open with a fan blowing the generator's exhaust out the door, along with the windows and roof air vents open. 

He and seven others went to bed that night thinking the house was well ventilated. 

"I get up every morning about the same time to go to the restroom. So, if it wasn't for that I don't know what would have happened," Mattern said.

The carbon monoxide may have been what made him stumble outside.He said he thinks he blacked out for a moment and fell on his back porch.

The fall split his eyelid open, but he managed to wake everyone inside up and call 911. 

"I am praying that everyone will learn off of what happened. But, we'll see. I know that I have made my mistake and I have learned," said Mattern. 

Mattern said his heart goes out to those who didn't have the same outcome. Three people died in Orange County Tuesday after a generator was left running inside an Orlando home. A Lakeland 7-year-old’s death is also a suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. A Daytona Beach woman was also killed Wednesday in a generator-related incident.

"It's upsetting," Mattern said. “We could have been there but thank God we wasn't.”

Titusville Fire Department officials said they have not had any more carbon monoxide scares from generators since this incident, but they did respond to one house for carbon monoxide treatment because of a grill that was used on the back porch.

Here are some more generator safety tips:

Generators should only be used in well-ventilated locations outside the home and up to 20 feet away from all doors, windows and vents

Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open

Place generators so exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings; the exhaust must be directed away from the building

Use carbon monoxide alarms in your home 

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