Perhaps you’ve lost power
to your home several times in the past year and ended up spending hours or days
without electricity to keep the lights on and the heat running. You decide to
invest in a portable generator to temporarily power your home when the next
power outage occurs. It’s a practical idea. In an emergency, portable electric
generators are useful when temporary power is needed. But be aware that they can
be very hazardous if safety precautions are not followed.
most common dangers involving generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning,
electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards, according to the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA). CO deaths associated with generators have
spiked in recent years as generator sales have risen. Generators were associated
with 6 CO deaths in 1999. That number rose to approximately 75 CO deaths a year
in 2005-2006. An estimated 34 percent of the 1999-2006 deaths occurred during
the winter months.
To help keep you and
your neighbors safe, NFPA and Burlington Community Fire Protection District
recommend that you follow these guidelines:
Generators should be operated in
well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent
The generator should be located so
that exhaust fumes cannot enter the home through windows, doors or other
Battery-operated CO alarms or
plug-in CO alarms with a battery back-up should be installed in the home,
according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Should CO enter
the home and pose a risk, an alarm will sound.
The generator must not be refueled
while it is running. The generator should be turned off and allowed to cool
down before refueling is performed.
Fuel for the generator should never
be stored in the home. Gasoline and other flammable liquids should be stored
outside of living areas in properly labeled safety containers. They should
be stored away from any fuel-burning appliance such as a gas hot water
Appliances should be plugged
directly into the generator or a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord.
The cord should be checked for cuts or tears and that the plug has all three
prongs, especially a grounding pin. The house wiring should not be powered
by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.
If the generator must be connected
to the house wiring to power appliances, a qualified electrician should
install a properly rated transfer switch in accordance with the National
Electrical Code® (NEC) and all applicable state and local electrical
With these precautions,
help us meet the goal of decreasing the number of portable electric generator
accidents in our community.