East Meadow

Generator Safety

An emergency generator can be a very important part of our Lives at times during power outages.

The most common models come in natural gas or gasoline or diesel power fuel powered. They can be fixed such as a permanent installation outside your home that sits ready in “Standby Mode” for an outage, or a portable model than can be wheeled into place at any time during an emergency. Regardless of choice, it is imperative that, you, the homeowner know everything there is to know about your emergency generator.

Summer outages where a generator is pressed into service will assist us in maintaining refrigerator and freezer needs to keep food from spoiling, and maintain climate control in your home on the hottest of days.

Winter outages can be of greater urgency where maintaining power for your heating system can protect your home from the freezing temperatures that could freeze pipes, causing further problems of flooding if a pipe bursts.

But there are a few things your East Meadow volunteers would like you to know.

First let’s refresh.. Carbon Monoxide is a dangerous gas created during combustion (Fire). It is a product of the exhaust of an internal combustion engine, such as an automobile, fireplace, generator, oil or gas heating system, gas stove, wood burning stove, and many more.

Carbon monoxide emergencies are most common in the winter months as a result of a malfunction heating system, but can happen at any other time of the year as well.. It is measured in Parts Per Million (PPM) that can range from the safety of “0” to the eminent death of more than 1,500 PPM. Read all about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide in our Safety Presentation found on this website.

In the past few years in East Meadow alone, we have witnessed the destruction from a malfunctioning generator that causes a home fire.

We have been called upon to resolve high concentrations of dangerous carbon monoxide gas, where a running generator outside the home was too close allowing significant gas accumulation to enter through a window.

Make no mistake about it… A portable generator for your home can be dangerous if all precautions are taken for granted.

Here are a few tips to live by if you have, or are looking to purchase, a portable or fixed emergency generator.

  • First, always use a professional to plan your generator support, the type, size, location, and means of a safe connection to your home.
    Always use a certified electrician to install your portable or fixed generator. An improperly installed generator can result in a fire, or worse yet, an electrocution of a firefighter or a utility linemen.
  • Know your generator, it safety features, routine maintenance, shut offs, and refueling safety procedures.
  • Always keep the operating manual in a safe place with other mechanical equipment so you can access it at any time.
  • Remember, Carbon Monoxide itself is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. But, should you smell the exhaust in your home from a running generator, assume deadly carbon monoxide is present. Evacuate the home and call the East Meadow Fire Department. Shut off the generator, only if it is safe to do so from the outside.
  • A professional firm installing your fixed standby generator has specific criteria for the safe location of a your fixed unit, however, when a homeowner is adding a portable generator of their own they must plan a location at least 25 feet from the home, and away from all openings and air intakes (A/Cs) of both yours and your neighbors. The presence of wind can also be a factor where exhaust could enter a structure.
  • Only operate a generator in a dry, sheltered area (Not a Structure) away from rain. This will ensure the safety of others when working near or around the generator.
  • Gasoline and other fuels must be stored a safe distance away from the generator to reduce the possibility of a fire.
    Be sure to turn the generator off, and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline vapors from a spill on hot engine parts could ignite. Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator.
  • Know your portable generator, and its capacities. If plugging in equipment, use only UL rated, heavy duty outdoors extension cords suitable for such usage.
  • Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator.
  • Never plug a generator directly into your home’s power outlets. Known as “backfeeding” this too, can electrocute yourself, a firefighter, or utility linemen attempting to restore your power.
  • Be immediately aware of the odor of exhaust, or the symptoms carbon monoxide (odorless) can cause such as dizziness, disorientation, nausea, or in extreme cases unconsciousness and death. Please see our Carbon Monoxide segment on this website.

On behalf of the Chiefs, and the dedicated men and women of the East Meadow Fire Department, we thank you for reading this message and doing your part to protect your home, your family, and the emergency responders who are ready for you at a moment’s notice.