The New Canaan fire marshal's office has issued safety tips when using generators, particularly as the threat of Hurricane Sandy looms.
Past experiences show that many residents have generators at their homes, but, if not installed and used properly, they can pose a serious threat. The primary hazard is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust. During past power outages, the Fire Department has responded to calls for CO alarms sounding and found deadly levels of carbon monoxide traced to operating generators.
Following is a list of what to do and not do rgarding the use of portable and stationary generators:
Make sure that a building permit has been obtained from the Building Department for the installation of a standby generator.
Close all windows adjacent to the generator to prevent toxic fumes from entering the home.
Never store anything on or around the generator. Obstacles could interfere with the proper, safe operation.
If you have a portable generator (one that you have to start and hook-up manually), never run it inside the garage or other enclosed spaces -- even with the doors open -- they must be outside.
Never refuel a generator while it is running. The unit must be shut down and allowed to cool before refueling.
Always have properly operating CO detectors installed in your home (in addition to smoke detectors).
Have your back-up power system serviced by a certified contractor annually to insure proper operation -- when it is needed most.
Always ensure proper electrical hook-up to prevent back-feeding to the street, endangering the power company workers trying to get you hooked back up.
Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use and all of them could have been prevented.
For questions on the proper use of generators, call the New Canaan fire marshal's office at 203-594-3034.