What to know about generator safety, carbon monoxide poisoning

Nearly 1,000 have died since 2005 because of generators

By Samara Cokinos - Meteorologist, Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hurricane season began early in 2018, with Subtropical Storm Alberto forming before the official June 1 start date.

The start of the storm season also brings warnings, especially when it comes to using generators.

Since 2005, nearly 1,000 people have been killed in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the misuse of portable generators.

Sonny Dukes, president of Accurate Power and Technology in Mount Dora, said most of the incidents are likely preventable.

"Safety, that's the big thing. Safety. Be conscious of your surroundings," Dukes said. "You have to be very conscious about where you place the generator. You want as a rule to place it 10 feet out from the house."

Dukes said there other tips, too.

"You definitely want the exhaust facing away from the home, away from the structure," said Dukes, adding that fumes can easily spread into air vents, creating a danger.

He said those living in mobile homes also need to beware.

"You want to make sure you're not shoving exhaust up underneath a mobile home. That's bad," he said.

Here are other things to remember when it comes to running a portable generator:

  • Consult a licensed electrical contractor to determine the proper load your generator can handle
  • Don't run generators for an extended period of time 
  • When the generator is not running, check the oil and look for leaks or loose cables 

Storing a generator is also important. 

"You need to continually start it," Dukes said. "Once a month (is recommended) to keep everything burning properly."

Another way to stay safe is to put a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, so it's important to know the symptoms of poisoning, which are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain

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