PG&E Blackouts, Generators & Fire Risk

land after fire with pathway

When PG&E announced its public safety power shutoff during California’s October 2019 wildfires, the demand for backup generators skyrocketed. But with widespread generator use comes a whole other host of risks, including injuries due to fire, electric shock, and especially carbon monoxide poisoning. To make matters worse, the California Air Resources Board announced in October that it would be temporarily allowing the sale of generators that did not meet emissions standards Рa further risk to consumers.

Generator exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide, an invisible and scentless gas which can kill within minutes. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 900 carbon monoxide deaths associated with generator use between 2005 to 2017, and another 15,400 hospitalizations. Because most generators run on unleaded fuel, they are highly flammable, and even one small spark can set an entire building ablaze.

Using a generator is risky, but there are steps everyone can take to minimize their risk of injury. 

Install your generator away from buildings and enclosed spaces. This greatly reduces the risk of CO poisoning and structure damage.

Make sure your generator is properly installed. Please refer to the Occupational Safety and Home Administration website for more information.

Before refueling, turn the generator off and allow it to cool. This reduces the potential risk of fire. 

Use the correct equipment. When plugging in equipment to the generator, make sure your extension cords are heavy duty and rated for outdoor use. 

For a complete list of safety guidelines, please visit energy.gov.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a generator related accident, please contact Kauffman and Associates for a complimentary consultation. No case is too big or small. We can help ensure you obtain appropriate medical care and receive the maximum financial settlement possible for your pain and suffering.