How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Generator

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Power outages can be a real hassle, especially when there’s a disaster, but with a generator, you can keep the lights on and the appliances running. However, generators can also pose a serious health risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if not used properly.

One of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home is from portable generators. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that can be produced by the combustion of fuels such as gasoline, propane, and natural gas. 

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for an average of 430 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year.

But don’t let that scare you away from using a generator altogether. In this post, I’ll share some essential tips on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, so you can stay safe and enjoy the benefits of backup power without any worries.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, and wood. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, which makes it difficult to detect without special equipment. 

When inhaled, carbon monoxide molecules attach to red blood cells and prevent them from carrying oxygen throughout the body. This can lead to serious health problems, including brain damage and death.

Generators produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the combustion process that powers them. The amount of carbon monoxide produced by a generator depends on its size, fuel type, and load capacity.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary depending on the level and duration of exposure. While some symptoms might show immediately, others won’t but will pile up over time, resulting in a huge disease in your body. 

Hence, if you know you are exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning by a generator, you should immediately seek medical attention. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning deals with blood tissues, and because of that, it can be extremely difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can mimic those of other illnesses, but with a simple blood test, it can be confirmed.

For mild symptoms, you may be experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. And more severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include confusion, chest pain, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Steps to Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Generators

When it comes to preventing yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by generators, here are some steps you should take.

Step 1: Proper Placement

The first step to preventing carbon monoxide exposure from generators is to ensure proper placement. 

Generators should always be used outside and away from doors, windows, and vents to prevent the gas from entering homes and other enclosed spaces. 

It is also recommended to place generators at least 20 feet away from buildings or other structures to ensure adequate ventilation.

Research has shown that carbon monoxide concentrations are significantly higher when generators are placed indoors or close to the home compared to when generators are placed outdoors and far from the home. 

Therefore, you must follow these recommendations to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Step 2: Regular Maintenance and Inspection

Another important step in preventing carbon monoxide exposure from generators is to perform regular maintenance and inspection. 

Generators should be inspected before each use and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

This includes checking for leaks or malfunctions that could lead to carbon monoxide emissions.

Regular maintenance and inspection can help identify and repair any issues before they become a safety hazard. 

It is also recommended to have generators serviced by a professional technician at least twice a year, that’s after 6 months of usage.

Step 3: Proper Fuel Storage

Proper fuel storage is also important in preventing carbon monoxide exposure from generators. Fuel should be stored in approved containers and kept in a safe, well-ventilated location away from the generator and any sources of heat or flames.

Overfilling the fuel tank can also lead to spills and leaks, which can produce carbon monoxide and other hazardous gasses. Therefore, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fuel storage and use.

Also Read: How to Store a Generator: Best Practices for Long-Term Storage

Step 4: Use Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Using carbon monoxide detectors is another important step in preventing carbon monoxide exposure from generators. 

Detectors should be installed in every home, particularly in areas where generators are used or stored.

Detectors should be placed on each level of the home, including near sleeping areas. They should also be tested regularly to ensure they are functioning properly. 

Carbon monoxide detectors can provide an additional layer of protection by alerting occupants of the presence of the gas in enclosed spaces.


Preventing carbon monoxide exposure from generators requires multiple steps, including proper placement, regular maintenance and inspection, proper fuel storage, and the use of carbon monoxide detectors. 

By following these recommendations, individuals can reduce their risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and protect themselves and their families from this deadly gas.

Remember to always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for generators, and to never use them indoors or in enclosed spaces. 

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately and get out of the area where the generator is being used. 

By being aware of the risks and following these steps, you can safely use generators and protect yourself and those around you.

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