Downed utility lines, power company blackouts, heavy snow falls or summer storms can all lead to power outages. Portable generators are a temporary solution to power appliances. It’s important to know that portable generators emit carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous, deadly gas. Use these tips to avoid CO exposure:
• Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas at least 20 feet (7 metres) from all doors, windows, and vent openings. Measure the 20-foot (7 metre) distance from the generator to the building.
• Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
• Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building. The exhaust must be directed away from the building.
• Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
• Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator
• Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.
When plugging in appliances, make sure they are plugged directly into the generator or a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord. The cords should be checked for cuts, tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
If you must connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install a properly rated transfer switch in accordance with the National Electrical Code® (NEC) and all applicable state and local electrical codes.
Portable generator exhaust is toxic and deadly. Do not stand or sit downwind of generator exhaust. If you can smell exhaust, you are inhaling it.
For more info, check out nfpa.org/education.