Generators emit exhaust containing carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. It’s also a very deadly gas, because most victims don’t realize they are being poisoned until it’s too late. When power outages occur after severe weather (such as winter storms, hurricanes or tornadoes), using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. Even with the door open, there still isn’t enough ventilation to keep the fumes outside.

Generators carbon monoxide

Prevention tips:
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generators, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.

In addition, a carbon monoxide detector should be mandatory. Since your power will be going on and off, get one with a plug and a battery backup. If you shut off the generator, the battery backup will automatically keep the device going.

The most obvious solution is to run generators as far away from the house as possible and point the exhaust away from open doors and windows.