In the aftermath of a storm, a generator is an invaluable piece of equipment that can help you stay comfortable and keep your routine on track. 

Yet because generator use is typically infrequent, it’s easy to overlook the basic safety measures. That’s why it’s important to take the time before a storm occurs to remind yourself of life saving do’s-and-don’ts.

Most importantly, generator misuse can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) deaths or injuries — all of which happen too often during power outages and storms. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, odorless, and colorless gas, and can kill you in as little as five minutes if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough.

On average, 66 people a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of using a generator improperly, according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data. Don’t put your home or family at risk – follow these safety tips:

  • Never run a generator (grill, camp stove or gas-burning devices) indoors including a home, garage, basement, or partially enclosed area. Most generator-related injuries and deaths involve CO poisoning from equipment used indoors or in partially enclosed spaces. Always place a generator at least 20 feet from the building, with the engine exhaust directed away from windows and doors.
    • Be sure to use working, battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors inside your home at the same time; these life-saving devices provide one more layer of defense against making an innocent but potentially deadly mistake.
  • Make sure you and your generator are in a dry location – and you have dry hands – before you attempt to start it. Also, be sure your generator is placed in a location that isn’t susceptible to moving or pooling water during storm/flood conditions. You can buy tents for generators that keep them shielded but well-ventilated.
  • If your generator is gasoline-powered, turn it off and let it cool before refueling. This can limit the risk of burns, and also prevent potential fire hazards if gasoline is spilled on hot engine parts.
  • Stock up on extra gasoline and store it properly. If you need it for an extended time, you’ll want extra fuel on hand. Just be sure to store gas only in an ANSI-approved container in a cool, well-ventilated place. Don’t store gasoline near any potential sources of heat or fire, or inside the house.

Want more tips? Check out this great blog to view an infographic for properly installing and using a generator to power your home or appliances.