Generators can provide essential power during an outage but experts warn they could be dangerous if not operated appropriately.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools between 1999 and 2012. The agency recently released report that found portable generators were linked to more than 85 percent of non-fire CO deaths associated with engine-driven tools, or 800 out of 931 deaths, during that 14-year period.
Generators should be placed at a distance from homes to keep fumes away.
“You want to put them out far enough that the fumes can’t escape into the house through open doors, windows or crawl spaces,” said Jerry Heil, owner of Heil Brothers Lawn and Garden Equipment in Kettering.
Heil also said people should make sure there’s no gas left in the generator when it’s stored . There’s a danger remaining fumes may mix with the open flame of a water heater or furnace.
Carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can neither be seen nor smelled, often is called an “invisible killer.” Generators also should never run indoors, or in garages.
In 2011, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Timothy Hall and his wife, Molly, were found dead in their garage on Preble County Line Road in German Twp. Their home had been without power, and Germantown police said the couple had been running a generator in the garage.
Investigators said there was a problem with the generator. When Timothy Hall checked on it, he was overcome by fumes. His wife then went to went to check on him, and she also was poisoned.
Experts also recommend that children stay away from generators and that the generator has five feet of open space around it at all times.