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Using a generator? Stay safe from carbon monoxide

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If you lose power, a portable generator can be handy. But if you don’t use your generator properly, the carbon monoxide it creates can be deadly. Here’s what you need to know.

Carbon monoxide safety
  1. Signs of a silent killer

    Carbon monoxide is sometimes called the invisible killer because you can’t see or smell it. If there’s too much carbon monoxide nearby, you may feel short of breath, have a headache, or feel dizziness, nausea, or weakness.

  2. Outside, away from doors

    Never use a generator indoors. Even outside, its location should be well-ventilated and at least 20 feet from doors, windows, or vents. Wind can blow carbon monoxide inside. Never use a generator in a garage, even if the door is open.

  3. Check your alarms

    Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms in your home, even if the generator is outside. When you install alarms, check the instructions for proper height and location. Test them every month and replace them every 10 years. Change the batteries once a year. If they go off, go outside and call 9-1-1.

  4. Add fuel when it’s cool

    Don’t put fuel in a hot generator. Turn it off and let it cool first. Only put fuel in containers made for fuel. Never store fuel inside your home.

  5. Take care with cords

    Plug appliances into your generator directly or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord. Check the cord for cuts, tears, or missing prongs.

  6. Have an electrician handle wiring

    If you want to connect a generator to your house’s wiring, have a qualified electrician do it. Make sure the electrician uses a properly rated switch that meets the National Electrical Code, and any state or local electrical codes.

  7. Watch other gas sources

    Cars, trucks, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, and many appliances also generate carbon monoxide. You can’t see or smell it, but if enough builds up, it can be deadly. Never leave a vehicle running in your garage or use outdoor appliances inside. Clear the vents of your dryer, heater, stove, and fireplace as well. And get your heater inspected every year.

Resources

 

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Last updated: 1/20/2022