Use Portable Generators Wisely

Sandy #028

Monday, October 29, 2012


Mary Hancock 385-0714, 404-7920 (cell)
Tim Riley, 385-0703, 377-0134 (cell)
Marc Davis, 385-0701, 406-2411 (cell)


Portable generators can be deadly if not used properly. The city urges residents to run their portable generators outside the home.  Generators should never be started or run inside a garage, carport or anywhere in the home. Even with the garage door open, carbon monoxide fumes can accumulate.  Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas that causes asphyxiation.  It is colorless and odorless, and can only be detected with a carbon monoxide detector.


The primary hazards to avoid when using generators include carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution and fire.  By following these few simple steps, you can prevent the loss of life and property.


To avoid carbon monoxide hazards:

·         Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents.

·         NEVER use generators in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.

·          Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

·          Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery backup) carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home, following manufacturer’s instructions.

·         Test CO alarms often and replace batteries when needed.


To avoid electrical hazards:

·         Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure.

·          Dry your hands before touching the generator.

·          Plug appliances directly into generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord.

·         Make sure entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all 3 prongs, especially a grounding pin.

·         NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as back feeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer.

·          If necessary to connect generator to house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment. Or, your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch.


To avoid fire hazard:

·         Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

·          Always store fuel outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass containers.

·          Store fuel away from any fuel burning appliance.


For more information contact the Virginia Beach Fire Department at or at 385-4228. You may also contact the U. S. Fire Administration at


Emergency preparedness information is available at For up-to-date storm information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter (#VBSandy), or call VB311 Citizen Services by dialing 311 on landlines within the city limits, (757) 385-3111 by cell phone, or visit for online assistance.