Using a Generator Safely During a Power Outage

July 8, 2021

Using alternative sources of power, such as a generator, can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. Never use a generator inside an enclosed space, inside your home, basement or an attached garage, as carbon monoxide fumes can build up.

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning. You can take steps to help protect yourself and your household from CO poisoning.

Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector, buy one soon.

If you have a generator for backup power, part of your generator usage preparation should include:

• Becoming familiar with the safety regulations that relate to your generator model.
• Ensuring you have enough fuel to last at least 24 hours. Start your generator at least once a month to be sure it starts easily.
• Checking oil levels and change as needed.
• Draining fuel from the generator, when it will be unused for a long period of time.
• Storing all your extension cords in one place.

For more information on being prepared, visit the Department of Emergency Services website at