"While generators are very convenient and tend to ease stress during
power outages, they can also be very dangerous if not used
properly," Foreman said. "Not only do they pose a fire risk,
generators can also put off the toxic gas carbon monoxide if not
used and/or ventilated properly."
In 2007, fire departments across the state responded to 7,045
carbon monoxide-related calls. That same year, generators caused six
fires in Illinois, causing nearly $150,000 in direct property
Each year numerous deaths are reported across the country from
carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of a portable, gas-fueled
generator inside a structure during a power outage. The fire marshal
strongly advises against using gas-fueled generators inside a home
or other building.
"After learning of several fatal CO poisoning incidents in
Washington and Oregon due to generators being used inside the home,
we pushed to pass a law requiring certain homes to be equipped with
carbon monoxide detectors, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007,"
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is
produced when fossil fuels -- such as natural gas, gasoline, wood,
coal, propane, oil and methane -- are burned incompletely. Furnaces,
hot water heaters, stoves and fossil-fueled space heaters are among
the potential indoor sources of carbon monoxide. In addition, homes
with attached garages can allow carbon monoxide into the home when
vehicles are left running inside the garage.
The fire marshal offers the
following tips to keep your family and loved ones safe from the
dangers of carbon monoxide:
Install carbon monoxide detectors
inside your home. Under Illinois' carbon monoxide detector law,
signed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich in 2006, all buildings that
use fossil fuels and have sleeping rooms or have an attached
garage must have an approved, operating carbon monoxide detector
installed within 15 feet of any sleeping area. Homes that have
all electric appliances and do not have a fireplace or an
attached garage are exempt from the requirements.
[to top of second column]
monoxide alarms at least once a month and replace alarms
according to the manufacturer's instructions. A good rule of
thumb is to change carbon monoxide and smoke detector batteries
when you change your clocks according to daylight saving time.
Have fuel-burning equipment inspected
by a professional every year.
National Fire Protection Association recommends the following
tips for proper use of portable generators:
be operated in well-ventilated locations outdoors, away from all
doors, windows and vent openings.
should be located so that exhaust fumes cannot enter the home
through windows, doors or other building openings.
Do not refuel the
generator while it is running. Turn the generator off and let it
cool down before refueling.
Never store fuel
for your generator in your home. Gasoline and other flammable
liquids should be stored in properly labeled safety containers
outside of living areas. Flammable liquids should be stored away
from any fuel-burning appliance such as a gas hot water heater.
Plug appliances directly into the
generator or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord.
Make sure the cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug
has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin. Do not try to
power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall
Office of the State Fire
Marshal file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]