Follow This Home Generator Safety Advice

Jason Hargraves
Written by Jason Hargraves
Updated June 15, 2021
Lightning storm
Spring thunderstorms can lead to widespread power outages that sometimes last for several days. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

Generators can have deadly consequences when used improperly.

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Power generators come in handy for residents of the Mid-Atlantic region during spring when powerful storms are known to roll through the area leaving folks without electricity for days.

Just last week, hundreds of residents were without power around D.C. after thunderstorms blew through the nation's capital.

Generators pose many safety concerns. Fire is the main one, but don’t forget to consider the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Earlier this month, a Maryland man and his seven children died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being used in their rented home.

Before purchasing a power generator consider this advice from the Red Cross:

Make sure you purchase a generator that is rated for the amount of power you think you will need. To do this, look at the labels on lighting, appliances and equipment you plan to connect to the generator to determine the amount of power that will be needed, then choose a generator that produces more power than will be drawn by the combination of uses. If you can't determine the amount of power that will be needed, ask a local electrician to determine that for you.

RELATED: Backup Power Generators Reassure Homeowners

Carbon monoxide detectors

Your safety considerations don't stop once your generator — or any other gas-powered device — is operational.

Shawn Crisp, a public affairs officer for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia, says any home or building with natural gas appliances should have a carbon monoxide detector.

Earlier this year that was highlighted when a gas leak at a Virginia laundromat sent several people to the hospital.

“You need to have a qualified technician look at [gas appliances] to make sure they are in good running order,” Crisp tells The Washington Post. “Have someone come out and service it, because prevention is key.”

If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, Crisp says to call 911 and your local fire department will come take a reading of the gas levels around the home.

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