A portable generator can be a quick solution to an unexpected power outage; however each winter people are unknowingly poisoned by Carbon Monoxide (CO) when generators are not used correctly. CO poisoning due to improper generator use commonly occurs after winter storms and accompanying power outages, when people tend to rely on portable generators for heating.
Grant County Health District and Grant PUD urge residents to recognize the risks when using portable generators. Harmful CO gas cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Even if you cannot smell harmful exhaust fumes you may still be exposed to CO.
CO kills hundreds of people each year in the U.S. To protect you and your loved ones from CO poisoning, follow these tips when powering up a generator:
- Never use a generator indoors-not even in a garage.
- Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is an extremely dangerous practice that presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.
- Because you may have windows open to get fresh air while the power is out, be sure to place the generator at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
- Install battery-operated CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.