Back-up Generators: How to Use Them Safely

In the wake of last week’s superstorm Sandy and other damaging weather conditions throughout the year, many homeowners have invested in back-up generators to keep their homes humming when the power goes out. According to the Building Performance Institute (BPI), however, generators can pose serious danger to a home’s inhabitants when not used properly, especially the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

BPI strongly advises that all generators be used only in the way specifically instructed by the manufacturer. The organization also offers the following safety tips:

Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages or basements.

Outdoors, be sure that all generators have at least 3-4 feet of space on all sides and above.

Outdoors, do not use generators near windows, even if the windows are closed.

Do not attempt to rig the generator in any way other than how the manufacturer has instructed.

If you show symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – dizziness, headaches, nausea, and tiredness – leave the home immediately and call emergency services. Do not re-enter the structure until it has been cleared by trained and equipped personnel.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. If you are using a generator, keep the symptoms associated with poisoning in mind. If you start to experience any of the above symptoms – automatically attribute them to generator use, and have it checked. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Source: The Building Performance Institute

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