For your storm-prep kit: Using generators safely

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Portable generators are useful and even lifesaving tools to have in the aftermath of a storm, but they can be deadly if not used properly.

Generator exhaust contains a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide (CO), a deadly gas that cannot be seen or smelled. Anyone buying a generator for storm season should also be sure to have a working CO detector at home.

Polk County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Keith Willliams spoke to FOX 13 in the days after Hurricane Irma hit in September of 2017, to remind the public of the dangers of running generators too close to a home, which can allow fumes to get inside.

"It can migrate into areas inside of a structure or into an area that's enclosed where it will create an atmosphere that's gonna be hazardous to the people," Williams said. 

After Irma hit Florida, there were multiple deaths from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, including three members of an Orlando family, and a 7-year-old girl in Polk County.

Fire rescue officials want people to be aware of the rules to live by when using a portable generator.

"We want to make sure if you're running a generator it's outside, it's not in your garage, it's not in a crawl space, it's not even on your back patio even if it's well-ventilated," said Pasco Fire Rescue Training Division Chief Shawn Whited.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shared a graphic to Twitter on May 31, reminding people of this critical safety information, and of the need for a working carbon monoxide detector in any home using a portable generator for power.

Generators also produce a lot of voltage, so they should never be operated under wet conditions.

During Florida's Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, portable generators up to $750 are tax free.  The holiday runs from May 31 through June 6.  For a full list of items covered by the sales tax holiday, click here.