Florida Officials Warn of Generator Dangers

Hurricane Idalia serves as a reminder to use generators safely during storm outages.

August 31, 2023

As Hurricane Idalia moves across Florida into Georgia, local authorities have warned citizens to be vigilant with the use of power generators, CBS News reports.

Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall Wednesday morning as a Category 3 storm according to the Associated Press (AP), has left more than 263,000 customers without electricity along Florida’s West Coast and has downed powerlines in Georgia, forcing the close of northbound Interstate 75. With the loss of power, generators are naturally going to be put to use—but they need to be implemented safely.

In a recent Tweet, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Florida DBPR) urged people to follow the safe use of generators, by:

  • Never running a generator inside
  • Keeping a generator at least 20 feet away from doors and windows
  • Pointing the exhaust away from businesses and homes
  • Keeping the generator dry
  • Turning the generator off before refueling.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the dangers of generators stem mainly from the associated risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, which can kill a human within minutes. CO is both colorless and odorless, which makes it go unnoticed by its potential victims. Exposed persons can become unconscious before ever experiencing the milder symptoms associated with CO poisoning, such as nausea, dizziness, and weakness.

According to a tweet by the CPSC, one portable generator can produce as much carbon monoxide as hundreds of cars.

Last year, before Hurricane Ian hit Florida, National Weather Service Director Ken Graham commented on how dangerous the misuse of generators and CO poisoning can be.

“We’ve seen over the last couple of years in some of these big hurricanes, including Hurricane Laura that hit Louisiana, that there were more fatalities afterward associated with generators than there was from similar storm surge of 16 to 18 feet,” he said at the time. During Hurricane Laura, eight people died due to generator-induced CO poisoning, CBS reports.

To learn more about keeping your business safe during the event of a hurricane, check out Florida DBPR’s online hurricane guide, as well as Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Generators.

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