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Generator Safety Tips

When dealing with a storm, a generator can be a vital piece of equipment that can, at the very least, help your life begin to feel normal again. 

Since we usually only use a generator during dire straits, basic safety guidelines can easily be overlooked. While storm recovery can be a stressful time, it is important to know how to use your generator safely.  

Ryan Truxillo, with St. Bernard Parish Hospital, says the biggest risk that comes with using a generator is the carbon monoxide fumes produced by the machines. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless gas, and breathing in too much of the toxic fumes can lead to fainting or death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning range from mild to severe, and can sometimes present themselves as flu-like. Some of the symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. To avoid harm or illness, officials recommend heeding the following tips:  

  • Purchase a generator that will meet the power requirements of the devices you wish to use.
  • Check to see if your generator has a built-in sensor for dangerous CO level detection.
  • Always follow manufacturer instructions when setting up a generator.
  • Never use a generator in an enclosed space or in your home. Only use a generator outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Place your generator at least 20 feet away from your home.
  • Double check that the exhaust is pointed away from any doors or vents.
  • Don’t run a generator in the rain, have a canopy or tent available if needed.
  • Stock up on gas, ensure it is stored safely and always refuel a generator that is turned off and has had time to cool.
Image provided by ConsumerReports.org