Portable Generators

  • From 1990 to 2003, 228 carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning deaths were associated with portable generators, as reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • From 2001 to 2003, the number of reported CO poisoning deaths associated with portable generators doubled
  • The most common improper placement of portable generators that result in injury or death are in crawl spaces, basements, and attached garages (within or in close proximity to the home)

Portable Generator Life-Saving Tips

Following these simple fire safety tips can increase your survival rate dramatically:

  • Always store fuel outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass containers
  • Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents; never use generators inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool; fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite
  • Dry your hands before touching the generator
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use
  • If you must connect a generator to house wiring, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment; your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch as well
  • Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery backup) carbon monoxide alarms in your home, following the manufacturer's instructions
  • Keep the generator dry; use on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure
  • Never plug the generator into a wall outlet, known as back-feeding, this practice can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord; make sure the entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all 3 prongs, especially a grounding pin
  • Store fuel away from any fuel-burning appliance
  • Test CO detectors often and replace batteries when needed