With the threat of Hurricane Irene before us it is a good time to review generator safety. Many residents have generators at their homes, and it's expected they could get a lot of use if the hurricane creates power outages.
But if not installed and used properly generators can pose a serious threat. The primary hazard is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust.
The New Canaan, Conn. Fire Department has provided a list of Dos and Donts for portable and stationary generator use and installation:
Close all windows adjacent to the generator to prevent toxic fumes from entering the home.
Never store anything on or around the generator. Obstacles could interfere with the proper, safe operation.
If you have a portable generator (one that you have to start and hook-up manually) never run it inside the garage or other enclosed spaces even with the doors open. They must be be outside.
Never refuel a generator while it is running. The unit must be shut down and allowed to cool before refueling.
Always have properly operating CO detectors installed in your home (in addition to smoke detectors).
Have your back-up power system serviced by a certified contractor annually to insure proper operation
Always insure proper electrical hook-up to prevent back-feeding to the street, endangering the power company workers trying to get you hooked back up.
If you have questions, consult your local fire marshall or building inspector.
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