Generator Safety

WTVY Hurricane Center -> Cleaning Up -> Generators-Stay Safe

Generators-Stay Safe

  • Never use a portable generator indoors, including in your home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or partially-enclosed area—even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup in the home.
  • Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area far away from doors, windows and vents that can allow carbon monoxide indoors.
  • Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in alarms with battery backup in your home. Test the alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.
  • Get to fresh air right away if you start to feel dizzy or weak. The exhaust from generators can rapidly lead to incapacitation and death.
  • Don't connect your portable generator directly to the wiring of your home. Instead, connect the appliances you need to run to the generator. The only safe way to connect a portable generator to the wiring inside your home is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch.
  • Never plug a portable generator into a regular household outlet.
  • Don't overload the generator (this can damage your appliances). Check with manufacturer's recommendations for appliance load.
  • Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.
  • Use the correct power cords. Overloaded cords can cause equipment damage or fires.
  • Read and obey the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded to prevent electric shocks.
  • Do not store fuel inside or try to refuel a generator while it's running.
  • Turn off all equipment running on the generator before you shut it down.
  • Avoid getting burned and keep children away from the generator at all times.
  • Carbon Monoxide From Portable Generators Can Kill You in Minutes

    Carbon Monoxide Hazard

    When the power is out after a hurricane, operating your generator safely can mean the difference between life and death. The exhaust from generators contains poisonous carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible killer. The amount of carbon monoxide from one generator is equivalent to hundreds of idling cars. Carbon monoxide from a portable generator can kill you and your family in minutes.

    Who's at Risk?

    All people and animals are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning; however, certain groups—pregnant women, infants and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems—are more susceptible.

    Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Tightness of chest
  • Fluttering of heart
  • Redness of the skin
  • Confusion
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Storing Fuel

    When the power’s out, portable generators help fill in the gaps. But storing fuel is dangerous and can lead to fires or explosions if not done safely.

  • Carry the fuel in an approved container. Some plastics become brittle with age and are incompatible with gasoline. Other containers are not strong enough to withstand the pressures of expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes. In addition, some containers sold as gas cans cannot be sealed well enough to prevent spillage. The best gasoline containers are approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM).
  • When transporting a container of fuel, secure it so it will not slide around or tip over during sudden stops or turns.
  • When You Get the Fuel Home

  • Remove the container from your vehicle as soon as possible.
  • The best way to store fuel at home is in a well-ventilated area separate from the house. The location should have no electrical equipment, open flames or other sources of ignition present. It also should be protected from the heat of the summer sun to keep evaporation to a minimum.
  • Do not store the fuel indoors. If you do not have a suitable storage area, consider building or purchasing an outdoor storage cabinet suitable for flammable liquids.
  • Never smoke when handling gasoline and never refuel a hot or running engine. If fuel is spilled, wipe it up immediately. Before starting the generator, move the gasoline at least 25 feet away from the fueling area to avoid igniting fuel vapors, which are heavier than air and may linger for some time.
  • Safety should be a key concern

    Lines will be long — and fuel may be scarce — following a hurricane.


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