Portable Generator Hazards
 Portable Generator Hazards
Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric
power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary
hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide
(CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or
electrocution, fire and burns.
Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator
use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators
reported to CPSC involve CO poisoning from generators used
indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.
Carbon Monoxide Hazards
When used in a confined space, generators can produce high
levels of CO within minutes. When you use a portable generator,
remember that you cannot see or smell CO. Even if you do not
smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO.
Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES.
Generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide. This is
a poison you cannot see or smell,
@ 6
NEVER use inside a home | Only use OUTSIDE and
or garage, EVEN IF doors far away from windows,
and windows are open. doors, and vents.
Danger labels are required on all portable generators
manufactured or imported on or after May 14, 2007.
If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator,
get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY. The CO
from generators can rapidly kill you.
Follow these safety tips to protect against CO poisoning.
e NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces,
sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening
doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon
monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger
for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
e Follow the instructions that come with your generator.
Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and
vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
e Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms
To avoid CO poisoning when using generators:
e Never run generators indoors, including
garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds.
e Get to fresh air right away if you start to
feel dizzy or weak.
with battery back-up in your home, according to the
manufacturer’s instructions. CO alarms should be certified
to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034,
IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.
Electrical Hazards
e Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if
they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator
when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help
avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating
the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be
occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the
generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface
where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your
hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
e Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension
cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the
wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all
appliances connected to it, Use extension cords that are long
enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away
from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures
that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord
is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs.
Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes
through a window or doorway.
e NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator
into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is
extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility
workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. Tt
also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection
Fire Hazards
* Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane,
kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of
living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not
store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas
water heater in a garage.
e Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down.
Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite. 5123/0407
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20207 ® (800) 638-2772 * www.cpsc.gov e www.recalls.gov
Surviving the Aftermath of a Hurricane
Deadly dangers can exist after a natural disaster knocks out power or causes flooding. Here is
some important safety information to keep in mind.
* Never use a portable generator indoors - including garages, basements, crawlspaces and
sheds - even with ventilation. Exhaust fumes contain extremely high levels of carbon
monoxide (CO) that can rapidly become deadly if inhaled.
o Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area away from doors, windows and vents
that can allow CO to come indoors. Wait for the rain to pass before using a generator.
Consumer-grade generators are not weatherproof and can pose the risk of electrocution
and shock when used in wet conditions.
e [fusing a generator, plug individual appliances into heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension
cords and plug the cords into the generator.
e Check that the extension cords have a wire gauge adequate for the
appliance loads and have all three prongs, including a grounding pin.
e Never store gasoline in the home or near a fuel-burning appliance,
such as a natural gas water heater, where gasoline fumes could be ignited.
e Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal
levels of carbon monoxide.
е Make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are working.
* Do not use electric or gas appliances that have been wet or damaged because of the
hazards of electric shock, fire, or explosion.
e Exercise caution when using candles. Use flashlights instead. If you
must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch
fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when
you leave the room. 5130-0805
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20207 ® (800) 638-2772 ® www.cpsc.gov * www.recalls.gov
CPSC Warns of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Hazard with Camping Equipment
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns consumers
about the carbon monoxide (CO) hazard with camping equipment.
CO can kill you!
From 2002-2006, CPSC estimates that 25 people died from carbon
monoxide poisoning associated with camping equipment, including grills,
lanterns, and stoves.
« Do not use portable heaters or lanterns while sleeping in enclosed
areas such as tents, campers, and other vehicles. This is especially
Important at high altitudes, where the risk of carbon monoxide
poisoning is increased.
e Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache,
dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion.
Carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Low
blood oxygen levels can result in loss of consciousness and death.
e See a doctor if you or a member of your family develops cold or flu-
like symptoms while camping. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which
can easily be mistaken for a cold or flu, is often detected too late.
e Alcohol consumption and drug use may compromise the ability to
recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
« Carbon monoxide is especially toxic to the unborn child of a pregnant
mother, infants, the elderly, smokers, and people with blood or
circulatory system problems, such as anemia or heart disease.
Pub. 5008 102010
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION e (800) 638-2772 e www.cpsc.gov e www.recalls.gov
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