The best way for cold-weather residents to operate a portable generator is to read and follow the operator's manual before starting the unit. Additional steps to ensure safe operation include:
- Only operate a portable generator outside, far away from windows, doors and vents to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide gas accumulating and potentially being drawn toward occupied spaces.
- Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in alarms with battery backup according to the manufacturer's instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas.
- Do not run portable generators inside homes, garages, basements, crawlspaces, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces, even if using fans or opening doors and windows. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
- Always place your portable generator downwind and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.
- If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using the portable generator, you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. Get outside to fresh air immediately and call 911 for emergency medical attention. Very high levels of CO can rapidly cause victims to lose consciousness before they can rescue themselves. DO NOT attempt to shut off the generator before moving to fresh air. Entering an enclosed space where a generator is or has been running may put you at greater risk of CO poisoning.