Our media partner, WOOD TV 8, shares these portable generator safety tips, and other precautions from The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and United States Fire Administration to avoid home-heating fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during a blizzard.

The NFPA says home-heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths.

“As everyone hunkers down during the storm, home heating systems will be kicking into high gear,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, in a press release. “Using that equipment safely and properly is paramount to preventing fires and other hazards while riding out the storm.”

Unattended heating equipment, namely space heaters, is the leading cause of home heating fires, according to the NFPA. They say space heaters account for one-third of home-heating fires and four out of five of home-heating fire deaths.

Heating Safety

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
  • If there are children in your home, create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters and open fires.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • For fuel-burning space heaters, always use the right kind of fuel, as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

  • Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside of your home.
  • If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after the storm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • Test your carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they’re working properly.
  • If you begin to feel sick or dizzy while your generator is running, you may be breathing in carbon monoxide. Get to fresh air quickly.

Portable Generator Safety

  • Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling; don’t refuel it while it’s running.
  • Make sure fuel, including gasoline and other flammable liquids, is stored in properly labeled safety containers. Place them outside all living areas and away from any fuel-burning appliances such as a gas hot water heater.
  • Always use extreme caution when operating electrical equipment in a damp or wet environment.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Make sure the cord is free of cuts or tears, that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin. Do not try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.

For more fire safety information, click here.



September is National Preparedness Month

More than 3,400 Americans die each year across the country in fires and approximately 17,500 are injured.  An overwhelming number of these fires occur in the home.  There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire.  It’s not a question of luck.  It’s a matter of planning ahead.

In the event of a home fire, every second counts.  September is National Preparedness Month and the United States Fire Administration and E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety offer these tips to keep you and your family safe.


Have Two Ways Out

  • Plan and practice home fire drills as a family.
  • Draw a map of each level of your home showing all doors and windows.
  • Discuss the map with everyone who lives with you.
  • Practice your home fire drills at least twice a year.
  • Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
  • Push the smoke alarm button to start the fire drill.
  • Try feeling your way in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Have at least two ways out of every room. If your first way out is blocked by fire or smoke, you can use your second way out.
  • If there is smoke, get low and go. Crawl quickly under the smoke to your nearest exit.
  • Close doors behind you and gather at a preplanned outside meeting place where firefighters and first responders can see you.
  • Remember to Get Out and Stay Out.
  • Never go back inside for people, pets or things.

Finally, keep your escape plan posted on the refrigerator so everyone in your home, including guests, know what to do and where to go during fire or smoke conditions.  Taking a few minutes now to be prepared might mean the difference between life or death for you and your family Where You Live!