ENFIELD — Chief Edward N. Richards would like to remind Enfield residents of the following safety tips and precautions when using generators.
Generators are often used during power outages to provide backup power to a home or business, but can be dangerous if they are used incorrectly and can cause fire, electrocution or carbon monoxide poisoning.
“In the days following Tropical Storm Isaias, we have responded to numerous carbon monoxide incidents involving generators,” Chief Richards said. “We would like to remind all of our residents to exercise extreme caution when using these devices. Generators have a tendency to produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which may result in poisoning.”
Carbon monoxide, also known as the “invisible killer,” is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and poisonous gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal and other fuels.
According to the non-profit organization Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), 739 carbon monoxide deaths associated with portable generators were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) between 1999 and 2012. Half of all portable generator-related carbon monoxide deaths occurred during the winter months and 69% of fatalities involving generator use in the home occurred when a generator was placed in the living area or basement of the home.
Generators typically produce high readings of carbon monoxide. When generators are in use, carbon monoxide has the potential to increase in residences due to installation issues. Exhaust from generators can enter the building through windows, doors and other openings due to the exhaust facing the home or even horizontal to the openings.
Chief Richards would like to offer the following tips from the ESFI to use your generator safely:
- Make sure your home is equipped with a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide alarm.
- Never operate a generator inside your home or in other enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces. Generators can very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), which can be deadly. Opening doors and windows or operating fans to attempt to ventilate a generator will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up in the home.
- Do not overload the generator. Check and make sure cords are not getting warm as this can be an indication of overload.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty, outdoor rated extension cord. Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load and have three-pronged plugs. They should be inspected for damage, such as cuts and/or worn insulation before use.
- Use extreme caution when running a cord into the building through windows, doors, or other openings to ensure cords are not crushed or damaged. The best option is to have the building wired with the proper equipment to provide power to the building.
- Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
- Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers, and away from fuel-burning appliances. Before re-fueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
- A generator is a temporary power source. Use a generator only when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.
- Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
If you feel dizzy or weak while a generator is in use, you should get to fresh air right away. If a CO detector goes off in your home, all residents should leave the house immediately and call 911 from outside or from a neighbor’s house.
Anyone with questions regarding generators or carbon monoxide poisoning can contact the Enfield Fire District at 860-745-1878.