Every year unfortunate accidents related portable generators end up causing physical injury and death. The majority involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially enclosed spaces. The others are related to improper set-up and installation and not knowing or ignoring clearly stated safety rules. Notably, these tragic incidents and accidents could have been altogether avoided.

Simply put, when used improperly, portable generators become hazardous to your health, safety, life and property. Set up and used properly, you can enjoy the benefits of portable generators without any hitches. There are six eminent dangers associated with these devices. With the advice of the experts, you can spare yourself and others from these dangers: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Portable generators, when running, emit a highly toxic gas known as carbon monoxide or CO. What makes this gas so dangerous is that it is literally impossible to detect because it is both odorless and colorless. Remember, you cannot smell or see CO.

More often than not, people succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning without ever realizing they were in harm's way. You can avoid carbon dioxide poisoning by placing the portable generator only in areas specified by our experts. Here is our list of do's and don'ts concerning this potential hazard.

oDO NOT ever run a portable generator indoors; that means DO NOT run them in: rooms, basements, garages, crawlspaces or any other enclosed space. Even if the room or area has ventilation, take note: portable generators were not meant to run indoors, not even in partially enclosed spaces.

o DO NOT ever position a portable generator beside any window, door or vent or near any opening in which people or animals may be visiting, staying or living. A common myth is; if you open doors and windows or use fans you can prevent CO build-up; THIS IS A COMPLETELY FALSE STATEMENT! Carbon monoxide from portable generators can seep through windows, doors and openings even though it is running outdoors.

o DO advise everyone that will be near a portable generator of the hazards and symptoms of CO poisoning and the safety precautions. If anyone experiences symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning, which include: nausea, dizziness, headache and tiredness, get to fresh air IMMEDIATELY, then seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY! DO advise the medical staff that CO poisoning is suspected. DO contact the fire department so that they can determine when it is safe to re-enter the property.

o DO install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. These alarms save lives! They should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms. Test them frequently and replace weak and dead batteries.

o DO follow all of the set-up and operation instructions that come with your portable generator.

Fire Hazards From Improper Refueling

Portable generators get hot; therefore heed this warning to the letter! Before refueling your portable generator, always take these two steps: 1). Turn the unit off. 2). Let the unit cool down. If you are not sure what the acceptable refueling temperature is, consult your user manual.

DO NOT ever attempt to refuel a portable generator while it is running.

DO NOT ever refuel a portable generator moments after shutting down.

These devices remain hot for a long period of time and that heat mixed together with gasoline or gasoline vapors could easily spark a fire. It may be inconvenient but always wait until the unit cools down before you attempt to refuel. You may be a top-notch contractor pushing to meet a tight deadline and need your generator to power your circular saw. I've been there; you're tempted to ignore safety rules to get the job done, DON'T DO IT! It's not worth jeopardizing your physical well being, life or property.

Improper Set-Up and Installation

A portion of the portable generator related accidents arise from improper set up and installation. Here is our list of do's and don'ts to insure that your set-up and installation won't put you in harm's way.

o DO NOT ever attempt to use your portable generator to power any house using a practice known as, “back feeding.” This is when the output from a generator is plugged into a wall outlet. The theoretical thought is; the generator will feed all of the other outlets in the house. This dangerous practice usually bypasses the built-in household circuit protection devices and even worse, presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.

We never advise anyone to connect a portable generator to house wiring unless it is done by a qualified and licensed electrician in accordance with local electrical codes. Moreover, only use a portable generator to power a house as a temporary solution in emergencies. If this is an ongoing scenario, a permanently installed standby generator is better for your needs

o DO Plug appliances directly into the generator. If you must use an electrical cord, use a heavy duty, outdoor rated extension cord; one that is properly rated to handle the sum total of the appliance load. Check the entire cord from end-to-end to confirm that the cord is free of frays, cuts or rips and that the cord has all three prongs, particularly the grounding pin.

Electrical Hazards

Treat portable generators with the same safety precautions as you would a normal power source. Remember, most generators lack protection devices such as circuit breakers; therefore, they can be considerably more harmful in the event that you happen to get electrocuted. To avoid shock or electrocution, make sure your hands; body and feet are dry before touching a generator. Never attempt to connect any appliances while barefooted.

Keep every connection clean and avoid tangling of cords, unnecessary and unsafe connections. Never overload your generator with too many appliances or devices. Keep your generator dry as much as possible and never use wet electric devices under any circumstances. Never let your generator work in the rain. In rainy weather, use a canopy like structure for protection.

Improper Storage Hazards

Always avoid these common portable generator and fuel storage hazards.

o DO NOT ever store fuel for your generator in your home. As a safety precaution, gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, kerosene and other flammable liquids should always be stored away from living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers.

o DO NOT ever place or store any fuel container near a generator or near any place it could absorb heat. That means DO NOT store fuel containers near any fuel-burning appliance such as a natural gas dryer or water heater. If the container is not sealed properly or fuel is spilled, it is possible for vapors from the fuel to be ignited by the appliance's pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.

Vibration Accidents and Noise Hazards

Some portable generators vibrate considerably, which causes them to shift and move. If they are sitting on a tailgate of a truck bed or on any other surface where the potential of falling off exists, this is a clear safety hazard and should be avoided. Always survey your location for this potential hazard. And remember, most many manufacturers suggest wearing ear protection when working around certain portable generators, consult your owner's manual.