Remember Carbon Monoxide Safety When Using Generators During Power Outages

man with headache

Portable backup generators are a great way to access power in the event of an outage, like when squirrels and rodents damage essential electrical equipment and disrupt power systems of your home, office, or substation. Unfortunately, generators produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is life-threatening. Make sure you understand your generator and how to operate it safely and properly to avoid the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is extremely toxic to humans. CO poisoning can kill a human in just minutes, and because it is invisible and odorless, many people don't realize the risk until it is too late. According to the CDC, CO poisoning results in over 20,000 emergency room visits every year!

CO is produced when fuel is burned, including during the use of a portable backup generator. As the fuel burns, toxic fumes release as a byproduct, and these CO-containing fumes can build up if trapped without proper ventilation. 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Because we cannot see, smell, or taste CO in the air, it is often difficult to detect until symptoms begin to show. Some of the most common symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • dull headache
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • weakness or fatigue

Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely dangerous and can result in medical problems like brain damage, cardiac complications, or death. If you or someone around you begins showing signs of CO poisoning, it is crucial to move to a properly ventilated area with fresh, clean air and find medical assistance. 

Generator Safety

Having a backup power source in the event of an emergency is great, but using one improperly can result in serious harm to you or your loved ones. Make sure you're ready to use your generator safely to prevent CO poisoning.

  • Never use your generator indoors. CO can quickly build up in a home or garage, even if you open the doors and windows. Aeriation is key to generator use and CO safety; position your generator outside, at least 20 feet away from your home's doors and windows. 
  • Install CO detectors. Some homes are equipped with CO detectors, but if yours isn't, install a battery-operated or battery-backup detector. Remember to check your detectors regularly to make sure they're functioning properly, and change the batteries when necessary.
  • Recognize the signs of CO poisoning. Be ready to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning in yourself or others, and know how to react to prevent long-term damage. Prevention is key, by moving your generator to an area with better ventilation farther away from your home. Swift reaction is necessary at the first signs of CO poisoning.

A portable backup generator can be a lifesaver in the event of a power outage. If used improperly, however, your generator can quickly turn deadly. Power outages can be easily avoided, though, with Critter Guard's protection system of Line Guards and Pole Guards from the rampant rodents that disrupt power flow and damage expensive electrical equipment. Contact us for more information on protecting your utilities from critters today.