Mechanicsville mother knows first-hand about storm safety

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jun 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-10 22:20:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Maureen Donohue is counting her blessings. The Mechanicsville mother of four battled an invisible killer Sunday night.

"We definitely had an angel looking out over us because it could have had a really bad turnout,” says Maureen. “It was pretty dangerous. It still gives me chills even thinking about it."

Carbon Monoxide crept into her house from the running generator outside after their home lost power during the height of Sunday afternoon’s storm that rolled through central Virginia.

Maureen’s Carbon Monoxide detector awoke the family in the middle of the night.

Maureen’s husband turned off the generator and opened the windows and doors to clear the house of the toxic gas.

"You could be going to bed at night and not waking up in the morning," says Maureen.

The gas is just one of the many storm related dangers you need to be aware of.

Lt. Robbie Haggaman with Richmond Fire warns that carbon monoxide is a deadly hazard.

"Don't mess with generators. It's a gas. It's colorless. Its odorless. You can't smell it. You can't see it. And it will kill you. Very quickly,” says Lt. Haggaman.

Another serious consideration? Flooding.  Lt. Haggaman says fast moving waters can carry a car away in an instant.

"If you see a flood area turn around go around it. Stay on a hard surfaced road. It is just not worth it,” Haggaman says.

Another potentially fatal danger during and after a big storm downed limbs on your home. More often than not those limbs can shred live power lines like twine.

"Those lines can be extremely dangerous. Always err on the side of caution. Treat every line that it is still activated and still has power going to it,” says Hagaman.

John McNamara with The American Red Cross urges you to draw up an emergency plan. Especially with Mother Nature's unpredictability.

"The amount of time you can save in that is life and death,” says McNamara.  "So take the time to take a look at the tips and have conversations at your home and business are critical in keeping you safe as we go through the summer and hurricane season."

Back in Hanover Maureen Donohue is literally breathing easier. She is living proof that dangers can lurk before, during and after that storm rolls through. She is urging everyone to buy a carbon monoxide detector.

Maureen says "This is a huge wakeup call. I told my family and friends that this is something you just have to get. Because you never know. We've used this many times before and never had any issues. You just never know."