State Fire Marshal: Generator safety tips to keep you and your family safe

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to reiterate the importance of generator safety as more people are calling 911 to report carbon monoxide poisoning, injuries and fires in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

“At this time, four lives have been lost as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the improper use
of a generator. Numerous 911 calls and hospitalizations for carbon monoxide poisoning are also being
reported. We’ve also been informed of around a dozen burn injuries and house fires attributed to
attempts to refuel a generator while it was running. All of this is preventable and we have to do better,”
said State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning.

“In addition, we are hearing from local fire departments that they are seeing an increase in calls of carbon
monoxide alarms alerting,” said Browning, “On one hand, it’s great that so many people have alarms to
warn them. However, many of those alarms are coming from homes powered by home standby
generators that are installed to remain in one location. This is an unusual circumstance that we feel is
primarily attributed to the continuous use of these generators, longer than they’re usually used and
certainly longer than they’ve likely been used since their installation.”

SFM tips for homeowners using standby generators:

  • Have a CO monitor
  • Give the generator a break once or twice a day to allow for any exhaust build up around your
  • home to clear
  • Open windows and doors during those breaks to allow for any CO build up inside of your home to clear
  • Ensure your generator is being properly maintained including the oil change frequency requirements
  • Refer to your owner’s manual or contact your dealer or unit’s manufacturer if you have concerns or questions regarding proper installation or maintenance

What to do when your CO monitor alarms:

  • Turn off the generator and open doors and windows to ventilate your home
  • Look for any air entry points into the home near your unit and ensure that those are properly closed and sealed off, such as windows or doors, air intakes, nearby dryer vents, or crawl spaces
  • Inspect your air filter for any dirt or debris residue and change the filter if found to be dirty
  • Check for anything around the unit that might be blocking airflow and remove the blockage

Safety tips for portable generators:

  • Do not place generators inside of any structure including garages, carports, and sheds, regardless of doors remaining open
  • Instead, place the generator at least 20 feet away from your home, and your neighbor’s home, downwind away from open doors, windows, and vents
  • Before refueling, turn the generator off and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes
  • Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet
  • Instead, use a heavy-duty, outdoor extension cord to plug appliances into generators
  • Do not use in rain or wet conditions
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Have a carbon monoxide monitor for your home

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