New Canaan Fire Marshal Issues Generator Safety Tips


As we deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaias, it is a good time to review generator safety.  

Fire Marshal Fred Baker. Credit: Michael Dinan

The New Canaan Fire Department has already responded to at least four instances of carbon monoxide in homes caused by generators.  

Past experiences show that many residents have generators at their homes that if not installed and used properly they can pose a serious threat. The primary hazard is CO poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust.  

Following is a list of do’s and don’ts for portable and stationary generator use and installation:

  • Make sure that a building permit has been obtained from the Building Department for the installation of a standby generator.
  • Close all windows adjacent to the generator to prevent toxic fumes from entering the home.
  • Never store anything on or around the generator.  Obstacles could interfere with the proper, safe operation.
  • If you have a portable generator (one that you have to start and hook-up manually) never run it inside the garage or other enclosed spaces – even with the doors open – they MUST be outside.
  • Never refuel a generator while it is running.  The unit must be shut down and allowed to cool before refueling.
  • Always have properly operating CO detectors installed in your home (in addition to smoke detectors!).
  • Have your back-up power system serviced by a certified contractor annually to insure proper operation for when it is needed most!!! 
  • Always insure proper electrical hook-up to prevent back-feeding to the street, endangering the power company workers trying to get you hooked back up.

Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use and all of them could have been prevented. Please be careful.

If anyone has questions regarding generator safety please feel free to contact the New Canaan Fire Marshal’s Office at 594-3034.

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