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ND Department of Emergency Services urges caution when using portable generators

Posted on 10/30/2008

October 30, 2008701-328-8100

BISMARCK, N.D. - Governor Hoeven has declared Monday, October 27 through Friday, October 31, "Severe Winter Weather Awareness Week." During the week, North Dakotans are reminded to prepare for the severe winter weather ahead. Approximately 70 percent of all fatalities related to winter weather occur in cars. The ND Department of Emergency Services (NDDES) today reminded people about the dangers of using generators during power outages.

"Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer. You cant see or smell it," Greg Wilz, ND director of Homeland Security said. "A generator's exhaust contains poisonous CO which can kill you in a matter of minutes."

Follow these important generator safety tips:

  • Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. And keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows and vents.
  • Read the label on the generator and the owner's manual, and follow the instructions.
  • Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.
  • Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.
  • Never use your generator to back feed your home's electrical supply; contact a qualified electrician to install a special switch that will allow you to safely use your generator to power your home or business.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandated a new danger label on generators manufactured after May 14, 2007. The label states that, "Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."

For more information, visit the following links:

Generator Danger Warning
What to Know: Generators and CO
New Danger Label Required on All Portable Generators
FEMA: Carbon monoxide information

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This site updated as of 9/26/2017.