Generators and Heating Safety

Some people choose to use a generator to power a furnace, private well pump, or grinder pump when the power goes out. Generators can also run essential medical equipment and appliances when you have no power. Others may choose to use alternate methods to heat their home. Always follow manufacturer instructions and follow tips below to safely use your generators and heaters.

Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide from fumes, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, even death. Install a carbon monoxide alarm and if it sounds get out of the home immediately. Get more information about dangers of carbon monoxide.

About Generators

Generators can be gas or propane fueled. Choose a generator based on your personal and home needs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plug appliances directly into a generator or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that has the watts/amps at least equal to the total of the appliance loads. If you choose to hardwire your generator, only a licensed electrician should install it into your household wiring system, either as a portable or permanent unit. An electrician should install a separate outdoor receptacle and a double-throw transfer switch to isolate the generator and protect utility workers repairing power lines. You should notify your electric company if you install this type of generator.

Safety Information Graphic of Using a generators indoors

  • Generators should only be operated outside, far away from windows, doors, and vents. Never run a generator inside your home, basement, carport, crawlspace, or attached garage, even with ventilation. Carbon monoxide from the generator’s fumes can build up and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause death. Get more information about dangers of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep children away from generators at all times.
  • Operate your generator according to manufacturer’s instructions. Overloading your generator can damage it and your appliances, and can cause a fire. Always install all recommended safety devices.
  • Check the extension cord frequently to make sure it does not become hot during operation. Discontinue use immediately if the extension cord becomes hot. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet.
  • If fuel is spilled on a hot generator, it can cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling the fuel.
  • Store gasoline away from the generator and not inside your home. Keep gasoline in properly labeled/color-coded storage containers. Improper storage can cause fires and explosions.
  • Be careful about using an old or borrowed generator. If the manufacturer’s instructions are not followed, users may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or overloading the unit.

Other Heating Sources

If you need to use an alternate source of heat, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or portable kerosene heater, be sure it is vented to the outside. Never use stoves or outdoor grills to heat your home. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home and cause sickness or even death.

Get a Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by burning fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, propane, gasoline, and kerosene. Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. If the CO alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately!