With the upcoming winter storm expected to hit New Hampshire today, many Granite Staters may plan to utilize back-up generators if there is a power outage. While generators are handy to have during inclement weather, it is important to practice generator safety to protect your home from dangerous carbon monoxide fumes and generator misuse.
General Generator Safety
• Near any door, window or vent.
• Garage, basement, crawl space, living area, attic, entry way, mudroom and porch.
• ALWAYS place portable generator downward and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.
• Always read and follow the equipment Operator’s Manual before operating.
• Engine exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that could kill you in minutes. You CANNOT smell it, see it, or taste it. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you could still be exposed to carbon monoxide gas.
• Operate the equipment ONLY outside far away from windows, doors and vents to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide gas from accumulating and potentially being drawn towards occupied spaces.
• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas.
• DO NOT run equipment inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds, or other partially-enclosed spaces even if using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and can linger for hours, even after this product has shut off.
• ALWAYS place equipment downwind and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.
• If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using the portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. See a doctor. You may have carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Read your generator’s manual before using.
Know the warning signs of carbon monoxide
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those caused by other illnesses such as a cold, flu or food poisoning. Signs of carbon monoxide consist of:
• Shortness of breath
If you suspect that you are experiencing any of the symptoms to CO poisoning, get out to fresh air immediately.
To prevent CO poisoning
• Never operate a portable generator or any other gas engine-powered tool in or near an enclosed space.
• Install a CO alarm that meets the current UL2034 safety standard.
• A CO alarm can provide added protection, but it is no substitute to proper use and upkeep of your generator.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/nh or call us at 1-800-464-6692. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross in New Hampshire at P.O. Box 2528, Concord, NH 03302-2528. Please consider joining us as we empower others to prepare, prevent and respond to emergencies.