Carbon Monoxide Safety Facts – While Using a Portable Generator

Carbon monoxide or ( CO ) is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas that could be deadly if you are in a poorly ventilated area. The flame carbon gives off is blueish in color. This gas is poisonous and should be avoided at all costs when not in a ventilated area. CO is formed when carbon is burning with a lack of sufficient air flow. Portable generators produce carbon monoxide and you have to follow some rules while using these types of generators. The following article is on carbon monoxide safety facts.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips:

Here are some safety facts and tips you can go by while using a portable generator. I hope this is helpful. You will want to go by these tips each and every time you get your portable generator out to use. These safety tips can also be useful for other carbon monoxide-producing products.

Tip #1 – Read The Owners Manual

This tip is obvious. Every time you buy a new product especially a portable generator you should open up that owners manual and give it a good read from cover to cover even if you think you know everything there is to know about the generator you bought. Reading the owners manual just might save your life someday.

In the owners manual, you will find if there is a warranty with the product any installation instructions, assembly instruction, a chart of all the components on and in the product and most of all safety procedures that must be followed while using the product. If your generator didn’t come with an owners manual make sure you contact the company that sold the unit to you and they can help you get a copy of the manual or help you find it online.  These days with the internet you can find most manuals by doing a search on google. Whatever you do don’t run the generator before obtaining the manual!


Tip #2 – Know The Symptoms of CO Poisoning


There are many symptoms of poisoning that can occur when being around carbon monoxide. Leave the area immediately if you suffer from these signs and symptoms.symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • A headache is one of the first signs you should be aware of when working around carbon monoxide. These can be dull or a real pounding headache. Play it safe and just leave the area if you have one of these. If the headache goes away after you are away from the CO area then you know that it is the carbon monoxide that is causing it.
  • Nausea. If you start feeling woozy and feel like throwing up it’s a pretty good sign that you are being affected by the CO and you must leave the area immediately and I would recommend sitting down in a cool, well-ventilated area.
  • Dizziness is another symptom which goes hand in hand with nausea. It’s a sure sign if your dizzy and nauseous that you are experiencing CO poisoning. You need to definitely leave the area and get help doing so if you are too dizzy to stand or walk. It’s also a good idea not to run a portable generator without some else around in case you get to sick to move if needed.
  • Shortness of breath. If you start feeling shortness of breathing you will want to get out of the area immediately before it’s too late to do so. This is a big sign you are being poisoned. Shortness of breath can happen easily especially if you have breathing problems like asthma or COPD. If you have breathing issues I would recommend wearing a breathing mask of some sort while being around carbon monoxide.
  • Fatigue. If you start feeling tired and sluggish all of a sudden then you are probably experiencing CO poisoning. Leave the area immediately and sit down.

The main point of this tip is to leave the area immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. CO is a seriously poisonous gas that shouldn’t be played with. As I said make sure to wear a breathing face mask if you have breathing problems.


Tip #3 – Use Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The use of carbon monoxide detectors is a great way to prevent you from being poisoned by CO. These detectors will alert you if there is a dangerous amount of CO in the air. If you buy a CO detector you will want to replace the battery at least once a year. I usually do this around one of the time zone changes either in the fall or spring.

If the detector starts having an annoying chirping noise that means it’s time to change the battery. That noise is on purpose to annoy you enough to get up and change the battery which is a good feature to have. It could save your life. Smoke detectors also have that annoying chirping feature.


Tip #4 – Keep Fumes Away From Yourself and Others

This tip is self-explanatory. When running your portable generator make sure you keep the exhaust facing away from people. If the wind is strong, make sure the exhaust is going with the wind and that people are not downwind from the generator. An easy tip to follow but very important and simple way to keep everyone safe from the poisonous fumes.


Tip #5 – Keep Portable Generators Outside

The last tip is to keep your portable generator outside and keep it away from doors and windows of buildings that might be nearby. CO can easily creep into a house if the doors are open or windows are open. This is true even if you have a screen over them and since you can’t see the gas this makes it that much more dangerous because there’s no way of knowing if the gas fumes are getting inside unless you have a detector in your house.


Play It Safe

When being around carbon monoxide and generators you want to play it safe. What did we learn today?

  1. Read the owners manual
  2. Know the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
  3. Use carbon monoxide detectors when possible
  4. Keep fumes away from yourself and others
  5. Keep portable generators outside and away from doors and windows

If you follow these tips every time you use your generator you will be safe. Play it safe out there.




Cory Haasnoot


  1. Great post and vital info.

    It doesn’t seems that in this century and time there is need for a post like yours.

    But unfortunately, lots of people still get killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The tips you give are obvious and easy, yet people fail to do it, why, I don’t know.

    I will share this post because it is a life saver, not only how to use generators safely, but in overall.

  2. Living in the country we use generators a lot and we always have them outside because of this 

    You will help a lot of people sharing this as many people I know had no idea of this and if they hadn’t asked us they may have been poisoned which would have ended in tragedy so thank you for presenting the facts here

    • I hear that a lot especially in the winter months. People will use them in their ice fishing houses and they end up being overcome with CO poisoning as a result. If they would just read their generators manual they would know this.

  3. absolutely awesome, I have heard of friends that have had there gen in a non ventilated position and I don’t think they have even thought that carbon monoxide poisoning is an actual thing. The best part is that if they had just read the article that they may have found some safety features that could be a major benefit to them (maybe they did and have gone against the grain lol). Thank you for the post I can now dictate safety features to my friends 🙂 

  4. Great piece Cory Haasnoot. I love your insights in the article, very helpful. In a poorly ventilated scenario, exposure to Carbon monoxide results in the deadly gas bonding with haemoglobin of one’s red blood cells hence circulating very fast in the body (through blood) and can be fatal in a matter of minutes.

    I am going to play is safe alright, thanks for your tips.

  5. Hey, thanks for sharing this life saving information on Carbon Monoxide Safety Facts – While Using a Portable Generator. I have heard of casualties caused by Carbon Monoxide from portable generators. I saw you talked about the use of Carbon Monoxide detectors.

    Can you recommend a detector for me?

    Also, apart from portable generators, which other devices or inventions or where can we also find Carbon Monoxide?

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Hi Barry, If your looking for a hardwired version I would recommend the First Alert Smoke and carbon monoxide detector. No need to worry about batteries on this one because you would hard wire it right to your electrical in your home. In case the electricity goes it does have a backup battery which will give you peace of mind. You can check it out at this link:

      First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Hardwired Detector

      If you want a battery powered detector. I would go with the first alert battery operated smoke and carbon monoxide detector. You can check that one out at the following link:

      First Alert Battery Operated Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector

      As for other devices that cause CO are propane heaters, gasoline heaters, propane stoves ect. Anything that burns fuel is a potential threat of carbon monoxide poisoning if the atmosphere is not properly ventilated.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Hallo there Cory, 

    I have to say that this post has helped me realize how ignorant I have been on very little small obvious things that make a huge impact. And that is reading the manual. 

    I have already made the effort of knowing the symptoms of co poisoning and have done a few of the other precautions. The one thing I have been blind to is reading the manual since I thought I already know what is in there.

    I made a mistake that looking in the manual has been warned about.

    I am sure there are other folks like me out there, and I also encourage them to take the time to read the manuals keenly. It will save them a whole lot of hassles.

    Thanks for the post. It was very informative.

  7. Thank you for sharing such important post about Carbon Monoxide Safety Facts.Many people don’t know the danger of carbon monoxide produced in the air .I have a friend who was working in the factory where they use portable generator but now he is suffering from Tuberculosis due to that fumes produced by the generator.

    There are many people who are dying due to lack of information on how bad breathing carbon monoxide is.

    Keep it up posting informative post because you are saving people’s life

  8. Thanks for this post Cory, it reminds me of a road trip I was on in the early 1990s. There was this van that had a faulty exhaust pipe. After traveling for a while the passengers sitting at the back had all the symptoms of CO poisoning you mentioned. The CO nearly killed them. In the event that one is inhaling CO in a moving vehicle what should be done? 

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