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Firefighters Stress Portable Generator Safety

Saturday, December 07, 2013 |

With weather having an impact on electrical service in many parts of our nation, some people are turning to portable electric generators as a source of temporary electricity for their homes.

This seeming convenience though, could itself be the source of disaster.

If not properly installed and operated, a portable generator can become a deadly device that kills via electric shock or carbon monoxide fumes.


Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes!


Firefighters encourage you to contact a licensed electrician to install your generator to make sure it meets all local codes. Never connect a generator directly to household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch professionally installed - and be sure to notify your utility, which may be required by law.

Power from generators connected improperly to household wiring can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs.

The Los Angeles Fire Department reminds you:

  • Generators can produce high levels of deadly carbon monoxide (CO) very quickly.
  • Never operate your generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space such as a patio, shed or garage; and when in use, place it far, far away from any structure housing people or pets.
  • Most of the serious carbon monoxide poisonings handled by Los Angeles Firefighters have been caused by generator exhaust fumes drifting into doors, windows, vents and crawl spaces.
  • Be certain to properly install household carbon monoxide detectors that are battery-powered, or have a battery back-up. Test the devices before you operate a portable power generator anywhere near your home.
  • If anyone starts to feel sick, dizzy or weak while a generator is in use, get them to fresh air immediately.
  • Read the owner's manual thoroughly and make sure your generator is properly grounded and maintained.
  • Store fuel for your generator remotely and safely. Turn the motor off and let the generator cool before refueling.
  • Make sure extension cords are rated for the load, free of cuts and worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.
  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment or appliances.
  • Keep the generator and your hands dry. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocution and electrical shock injuries.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times!
Remember: Electricity is a powerful tool, and odorless carbon monoxide fumes can quickly lull you to deep and deadly sleep!


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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