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People should exercise caution when using portable generators in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common poison-related cause of hospitalization and death in the wake of hurricanes. It is called the "silent killer" because it causes no odors or symptoms that signal a problem. When people use generators improperly -- too close to homes, in garages, or outside bedroom windows -- carbon monoxide can seep in and sicken or even kill.

Use portable generators safely:

  • Carefully follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for portable generators.
  • Never use portable generators indoors, in garages or near open windows.
  • Do not siphon gasoline by mouth to fill a generator with fuel.
  • Use battery-operated (or battery-backup) carbon monoxide alarms. Be sure to test the batteries.
As the weather turns cooler, NEVER use stove burners or ovens to heat your home. Using stove burners or ovens to heat homes is a fire hazard that also increases risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your heat isn’t working, wear extra layers of clothing.

If you experience sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, weakness or your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, immediately seek fresh air and call the Poison Control Center at
(212) POISONS (764-7667)
or 911. The certified pharmacists and nurses are available for advice and assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are free and confidential.

American Association of Poison Control Centers Portable Generator Use Alert (PDF)


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