ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Deaths and injuries from improper generator use are growing across Tampa Bay, including:

  • One Highlands County death from what investigators believe was a generator being used inside a garage.
  • A man who was severely burned and lost his home to fire in Highlands County while fueling a generator.
  • A couple suffering apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in Brooksville. While the generator was outside their home, it was in a breezeway.
  • A Lakeland 7-year-old died from carbon monoxide poisoning and her mother was seriously injured after a generator was used inside their home.

Here's how to properly use a generator:

  • Generators and gas grills should be operated in well-ventilated locations, outdoors, away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator or gas grill in an attached garage, even with the door open.
  • Do not use dryer cords to power your house.
  • Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled. Store the containers outside of living areas. Propane tanks should also be turned off when not in use and stored outdoors.
  • Do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system without a licensed electrician providing a means to connect. Improper wiring creates the danger of back feeding the power system, energizing downed lines and fatally electrocuting anyone that contacts those lines.

Carbon monoxide has no color or smell, and portable generators can produce high levels very quickly, officials said.

Those who start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator should get fresh air immediately.