Before use, learn about the potential dangers associated with portable generators, such as their production of carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless poisonous gas that is called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of technology like CO alarms. Follow these tips to generate power AND safety when using a generator.

By The Numbers

  • African Americans accounted for 23% of fatalities, which is nearly DOUBLE their proportion of the U.S. population
  • Storms account for many of the fatalities associated with generator use, with ICE/SNOW storms accounting for 46%. Hurricanes accounted for 29%
  • 67% for the fatalities occurred when a generator was placed in the living area or BASEMENT of the home
  • 26% of fatalities occurred when a generator was used inside an attached GARAGE or shed
  • Between 1992 and 2012 nearly 80% of the 931 CO deaths were associated with generators
  • 50% of generator related deaths occurred during November – February
  • 30% occurred during March – April & September – October
  • 20% occurred during other months

Tips for the Proper Installation and use of Generators

  • NEVER operate a generator INSIDE your home or in other enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces, including GARAGES
  • A generator is a TEMPORARY power source and should never be used as a permanent solution
  • NEVER connect generators directly to household wiring without first installing a TRANSFER SWITCH. This prevents backfeeding which could electrocute utility workers making repairs
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded and used with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
  • Use only extension cords that have a THREE-PRONGED plug and are rated for the intended load
  • Your home generator should be installed by a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN and bear the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as UL, Intertek, or CSA
  • Install battery-operated CO ALARMS or plug-in CO alarms with a battery backup 
  • Do NOT OVERLOAD the generator
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends generators be positioned at least 20 FEET from doors, windows, and vents to prevent CO from entering the home

*Data from “incidents, Deaths, and In-Depth Investigations Associated with Non-Fire Carbon Monoxide from Engine-Driven Generators and Other Engine-Driven Tools, 1999-2012”; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, August 2013.