WARNING: Never Use Generators Inside the Home or Garage

September 14, 2018, 9:34 am EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (WTAT-TV) — Portable generators will most likely be used by homes and business across the state as Hurricane Florence causes power outages.

While they are helpful in creating temporary electricity, doctors say they can cause permanent health damage if they are not used properly.

Medical specialists say often times during severe weather events people can misuse the generators – they find people placing them inside their home, mobile home or apartment. That is when carbon monoxide can be released inside the dwelling.

It’s an odorless, colorless gas that can go undetected. It will eventually cause unconsciousness, headaches or vomiting. It’s also deadly and that is why doctors remind people to keep generators outdoors at all times.

“Two, three months down the road they can start to have memory problems, concentration problems or coordination problems, and that is another reason why we want to prevent the exposure and then treat the severe exposures if necessary. But again, prevention is by far the best cure,” said Dr. Lance Davis, medical director of hyperbaric medicine at Roper Hospital.

Dr. Davis is in charge of the city’s only hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It is where carbon monoxide patients can go for treatment if exposed.

During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Dr. Davis says 12 patients were brought in with symptoms. Six of them were severe cases. That is why he wants everyone who owns a generator to use it properly.

Keep it outside so the fumes can escape safely. The doctors says it’s a matter of life and death.


– Never run a generator in an enclosed space or indoors, that includes a carport, garage or your home’s front or back porch. Always place the generator at least 15 feet from the house and away from doors and windows.

– Do not a portable generator in the rain. Unless you properly cover and vent it.

– Before refueling, turn off a gasoline-powered generator and let it cool. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.

– Stock up on extra gasoline and store it properly. When you think you’ll need to use the generator for an extended time, you’ll want extra fuel on hand.

– Don’t attempt to backfeed your house. That means trying to power your home’s wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. This is dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices, so you could end up frying some of your electronics or starting an electrical fire.