You’re smart. You know better than to give an electrical outlet a “wet willie” or to stick your hand inside a moving lawnmower.
In reality, a portable generator requires the same common sense as using a lawnmower or the electricity in your home.
We take the Barney Fife approach to lecturing to new generator customers.
There are two rules when using a generator. The first rule is “to obey all rules.”
The second rule is to "Never Use a Generator Indoors!"
Why Should You Never Run a Generator Indoors?
Generators emit exhaust containing carbon monoxide - the same stuff that kills people who leave their car running in the garage.
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.
Because generators tend to get used during power outages, they are often times used during a rain storm. So, to keep the generator dry, some people place their generators in their garages or underneath porches where carbon monoxide can slowly seep into the home and become concentrated.
Even with the garage door open, there still isn’t enough ventilation to keep the fumes outside. They simply invite themselves inside and slowly kill entire families.
Rumor? No. Scare tactic? Unfortunately not.
After the snow storm that ravaged Connecticut in November 2011, unintentional CO poisoning accounted for 18% of all storm-related deaths.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is now requiring manufacturers of portable generators to warn consumers of carbon monoxide hazards through a new label that reads, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES.”
The most obvious solution is to run the generator as far away from the house as possible and point the exhaust away from open doors and windows.
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.
If you own a portable generator, you should buy a carbon monoxide detector now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk!