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Storms / Hurricane and Generator Safety

Wayne 440

A word for those affected by this event -
Many people will be hitting this forum over the next days and weeks, with their power out, and either trying to get an old generator to carry them through or perhaps with a new one that quit on you. But long after this storm is gone, Matthew will still be killing. I GUARANTEE that someone will be electrocuted. And I GUARANTEE that MULTIPLE households will be devastated or wiped out by carbon monoxide poisoning. In other words, someone's neighbor, family, or first responders will get the pleasure of prying open a strangely quiet house and being greeted by the smell of a dead family. Others will be 'more lucky' and the kids will find their parents dead, or vice versa. And I suspect the count of people who are made sick but survive is much higher. I know this is gruesome but I'm trying to drive home that the fumes from a running engine can and will kill you, and the only symptom may be you feel a bit tired and want to go to sleep.

Your generator MUST NOT BE IN OR NEAR YOUR HOUSE. Chain it to a tree or chain it to your neighbors upside down boat in your back yard, or if you can't secure it, just take the risk it gets stolen, but don't die. NOT in your garage, carport, or ANY structure 'attached' to a occupied area.

Some of you will be under stress and feeling a lot of pressure to get the power on, maybe you have a medications in the fridge, or a relative who does not do well when the heat and AC is off. Many of you may know little about electricity and wiring. Please remember that voltage KILLS even after a hurricane, even if you think you 'really really' need the power. And backfeeding is illegal and very dangerous. You're backfeeding if you got a double ended power cord that plugs the generator into your drier outlet. You're backfeeding any time that if you switch the main breaker on, you can energize the outgoing line. It's a horrid idea but if you just HAVE to do it, make sure your main utility breaker is OFF and LOCKED UP. Put the key in YOUR pocket. Keep it there till the generator is disconnected and put away. And if you come here for help after accidentally kicking the main breaker on and smoking your generator, be aware that most of us are not too forgiving. Also it's very likely you have destroyed some very expensive parts of your generator.

Feel free to ask questions and there are a lot of 'experts' on this board who will try to help. Many of us make a living with generators and we can help you. But please stay aware of your own limitations and be patient-it may take a few hours to get an answer in some cases. Post a make, model, serial, and maybe some pictures, and that will help a lot.

Stay safe!


Last Subscription Date
Re: Texas storms/hurricane and generator safety


besides fatal F-ups with exhaust and electrical outputs

the input energy is dangerous too

think fuel safety
be not a crispy critter
and if you think a storm can play havoc with your home
think about an explosion

cut and paste from elsewhere
Steve Harris,
Degree in chemistry
Answered Aug 25 2015
Burning a gram of gasoline releases about 10 times the energy of a gram of TNT.
Partly because you don't count oxygen mass.

be prepared
gen set ready
transfer set up
transitioning to generator power practiced and tested

the best time to check the generator is while the lights are still on, well before the storm
Last edited:

Andrew Mackey

Last Subscription Date
DO NOT POWER YOUR HOME IF THE MAIN BREAKERS ARE NOT OPENED! Putting power to the grid is not only illegal, it can be lethal to power line workers. A transformer works both ways 13000 in, 240-110 out. 110/240 in - 13000 out. If someone is working down line, they can be killed! DO NOT BACK POWER A HOUSE WITHOUT DISCONNECT! Do not power if there is water in the circuitry. Water conducts power, and you could be fried (literally) if outlets are in water.

slip knot

Last Subscription Date
yes, please be safe out there. We had a young lineman get electrocuted last week. He was here helping out with Harvey's aftermath when he contacted a live conductor. 22yrs old is way too young.

Be safe and be careful when using a generator out there guys. the life you save may be yours.

Wayne 440

And once again, generator related fatalities.


International Business Times September 14, 2017

A Florida girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning after Hurricane Irma left millions without power, officials said Thursday. The fumes emitted from a generator in her Lakeland home likely caused her death.

A medical examiner concluded that 7-year-old Terryn Wilson’s cause of death was carbon monoxide intoxication. Her mother remained in critical condition at a Miami hospital, according to a statement released by the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

The girl’s mother, Shashunda Wilson, 41, discovered her daughter dead Wednesday morning. Her mother operated the generator in the living room as the two slept in a bedroom, officials said.

The girl’s death is part of a series of terrible incidents in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which ravished Florida last week. Over 20 people in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia died from the storm’s unforgiving wrath. The hurricane landed in the Florida Keys ’’as a Category 4 storm. Previously, it was a Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds.

The storm prompted many to use generators as sweeping winds and massive flooding downed power lines. This was the first time Wilsonused the Power Stroke 5500-watt generator and was unaware it wasn’t for residential use, Fox-affiliate WTVT reported

This is the first death our agency has worked related to Hurricane Irma. It's a tragedy when anyone dies, but when a child dies, it's a horrific tragedy," Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Terryn Wilson's mother called 911 before noon Wednesday. The child felt dazed when she woke up she told dispatchers. Polk County Fire Rescue arrived at Wilson’s home, where they found the mother sitting outside, WTVT reported. Officials transported the two to Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

The mother and daughter lived in a small duplex located at 5124 Dossey Road South. A nearby residence had high levels of CO as well, but no one sustained injuries, according to investigators.

Improper generator use has led to numerous carbon monoxide poisoning incidents following Irma, including a 26-year-old Florida man who died at a hospital Thursday after officials discovered him at his home near Hialeah. A dog was found dead Wednesday due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and a house burned down Monday, caused by a generator fire, according to reports.

Generators should never be used inside, instead, they should be in a well-ventilated place away from a house, Cherie Jacobs, a Tampa Electric public relations manager told the Associated Press.

This means not in a garage, not in a carport, not in a patio or a deck and this is so you can air out that, ventilate that carbon monoxide, which is deadly," she said. Generators should only be used to power appliances with extension cords, and users should always follow manufacturers' directions, Jacobs added.

Please do not wire that generator to your breaker box or attach it to your whole house using an outlet. That can create a dangerous situation for line crews," she said. "This is called back feed and it creates electricity and sends it on the power lines and if crews are working in your area, that can be very dangerous for them."

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas and health officials suggested that residents keep a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in their homes.



It's sad that it happens. Makes me sick thinking about it. But these reminders are worth it if it even saves one life. The dead will start stacking up in the coming days as the supply chain catches up and gets the generators to the worst areas.

Right now virtually every available generator on the continent is headed south, I've seen them streaming down the freeways, some from Canada. Most places have rented their fleet completely out. The going rate is just too high to let one sit. I'm sure the manufacturers are stamping them out as fast as they can go, too, not just the little ones but everything up to the megawatt range.


Deaths than can be prevented are the worse to me. C O from generators and kids and pets left in hot cars drive me crazy. I had C.O detectors in my home long before I owned a home Generator. I have gas heat and Hot water. I wouldn't run either without C.O. detectors.


A transformer blew over by my grandmother's house. I decided not to plug in the generator and I went to sleep power was off all night long and in the morning🤔.

I rode my bicycle over to the next street and most everybody had standby Generators.

Except for this one dude who had his running In the garage with the garage door cracked. Some people just don't know I suppose ?

Wayne 440

I am not sure if it is that people don't know or that some (most?) people think that they are somehow smarter than everyone else that has been killed by making mistakes with generators. Had you asked the "one dude" his response would have probably been, "I have the door cracked, it will be just fine"- and some part of the time it will be. The other times are the ones that make the news.

Peter Holmander

Last Subscription Date
It's worse in the winter time. If you have forced hot air heat, when the furnace comes on, it will suck carbon monoxide from your garage even if you have the garage door open a bit.