MALTA, N.Y. — The Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI) offers tips for contractors to pass along to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy on the safety hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper use of generators. Let customers know that generators should only be used in the way specifically instructed by the manufacturer.

• Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages or basements.

• Outdoors, be sure that all generators have at least three to four feet of space on all sides and above.

• Outdoors, do not use generators near windows, even if the windows are closed.

• Do not attempt to rig the generator in any way other than how the manufacturer has instructed.

• If you show symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning — dizziness, headaches, nausea, and tiredness — leave the home immediately and call emergency services. Do not re-enter the structure until it has been cleared by trained and equipped personnel.

• Caution is your friend — carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. If you are using a generator, keep the symptoms associated with poisoning in mind. If you start to experience any of the above symptoms, automatically attribute them to generator use, and have it checked. It is better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to generator safety, BPI noted that another potential hazard facing homeowners in the coming weeks is the evolving effects of water damage. Moisture damage and mold can be serious threats to health and safety.

The following are a few tips to help recognize water damage and mold, and respond accordingly to prevent its spread.

• Follow your nose — Mold gives off a musty or suspicious odor. Follow the smell, and look closely at the surface of the building materials or furnishings in question.

• Investigate — Look inside cabinets, behind drywall, around baseboards, in basements, in crawlspaces, and in attics.

• Use your eyes — Signs of mold growth include cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery surfaces with varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green. Mold can also appear as a discoloration or stain.

• Start the clock — If a home has flooded, the longer the water remains, the higher the probability that mold will grow. Keep an eye on areas of the home that are water-logged the longest. These areas are the most at-risk for mold growth.

• Remove it quickly — While there are a number of home remedies one can use to remove mold, the best solution is to call in a professional. Mold, especially black mold, can be dangerous. Professionals are trained to handle mold infestations safely and quickly. Identifying mold early is the best thing you can do to mitigate the hassle of removal.

If you were affected by this storm and need assistance, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and apply at

Publication date: 11/5/2012