What you need to know about generator safety during hurricane season

Tips, steps to stay safe while using generators

ORLANDO, Fla. – With the upcoming hurricane season, the threat of tropical storms or hurricanes brings the potential for residents to be without power for some time.

The increased use of generators also brings the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, if used incorrectly.

Orange County Fire Rescue said the best way to stay safe in the aftermath of a hurricane is to remember to keep generators outside, away from the home and dry.

Here are the steps to use and store your generator:

  • Shopping for your generator - When shopping for a generator, think about what items you need it to power. This is important, because the generator needs to be able to run the amount of wattage required for the items you want to keep on. Once you’ve chosen the generator that’s right for you, make sure you have the cords you need to run it. You’ll also need to buy gas to power the generator.
  • Storing your generator - Make sure you’re keeping your generator at least 10 feet away from your home while it’s being used and that the exhaust is pointed away from doors or windows. And if you’re worried about it being stolen, you can chain it to something heavy that would make it harder to take.
  • Before using your generator - Make sure you have enough gas for a few days of use. As we mentioned before, the amount of gas you’ll need will depend on the size of your generator. Make sure the generator is off before fueling it. Next, make sure the machine has oil in it. Never let your generator run low on oil, never let the oil get dark in color and make sure to change the oil before a storm arrives.
  • Starting your generator - Make sure the breakers are on and that you have the proper plugs and cords to run the machine. Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator. According to experts, refrigerators only need to run a few hours a day to keep food from going bad.
  • After using your generator - The generator should be given time to cool down after running for several hours. Nighttime is the best time to keep a generator cool, because it’s not during peak heating hours.

Without a carbon monoxide detector, the invisible gas can fill a room unnoticed until symptoms begin to show up. Red blood cells pick up carbon monoxide quicker than they pick up oxygen. Inhaling the odorless gas then replaces the oxygen in the blood, causing symptoms. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, so it’s important to know the symptoms of poisoning, which are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain

Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.