GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Generators help keep your home warm during long power outages, but they also pose a safety risk if you are not careful. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning, accidental fire and electrocution are all possible if a generator is not hooked up properly.

“Never put it inside the house,” Jon DeVine told 24 Hour News 8. “That might seem like a silly thing to say, but it does happen.”

DeVine is the assistant store manager for Rylee’s Ace Hardware in Grand Rapids. The store only had one remaining generator for sale Thursday afternoon.

He explained it’s important to keep a generator outside and at least 15 feet from a home to avoid carbon monoxide from getting inside. If you do cover it, make sure air can still flow around it to prevent exhaust from building up and starting a fire.

“We have had folks ask if they can hook these up to their main box and run their whole house off it. When they are doing that, we really strongly recommend they have a professional install a side panel for it,” DeVine continued. “If you plug this into your outlet and then the power company comes by and they go to hook it up, you can zap them and that’ i a very strong zap that could potentially kill someone.” 

Given the ice storm West Michigan has experienced, DeVine also recommends putting the generator in a spot away from trees or other landscaping that could potentially fall over.

One of the most important safety reminders: keep it dry while you are setting it up.

“It’s meant for outdoors. It’s OK if it doesn’t get a little wet and such, but make sure when you’re putting your plug-ins to it they’re dry. You don’t want to be trying to zap yourself,” DeVine said.