New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Issues Cautions in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

  • Posted on: 09/02/2021

Downed Power Lines, Portable Gas Generators and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Remain a Persistent Threat

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety (NJDFS) joins with local fire department and emergency responders throughout the state to issue cautions in the wake of Hurricane Ida, as flooding and storm damage continues to affect the state.

The use of portable generators can result in Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning if used improperly. Also, the ongoing threat of downed power lines is a safety hazard residents should be aware of in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The Division is issuing the following guidance on portable generator safety use, downed power lines, and carbon monoxide poisoning:


  • Never run a generator within a basement, garage or any enclosed or partially enclosed structure because the accumulation of carbon monoxide can be fatal.
  • Never position a generator close to windows and doors.
  • Never connect a generator directly to home wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause back feeding along power lines and electrocute anyone in contact them, including line workers making repairs.
  • For generators that are tied into your electric panel designed for feeding your whole house, a danger of backfeeding can create a very dangerous, and potentially deadly situation for lineworkers at your electric company. If your generator isn't installed properly, the resulting backfeed of electric current could kill or severely injure a lineman working to restore your power.
  • Always plug appliances directly into generators.
  • When using extension cords use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords that are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs.
  • Make sure the generator is properly grounded.
  • Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by a generator before shutting it down.
  • Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open-air structure.
  • Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never fuel a generator while it is operating and wait until it is cool to the touch.
  • Read and adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation.
  • Use ten-year sealed battery carbon monoxide alarms.


  • Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away.
  • Never try to drive over a downed power line nor through water that is in contact with it.
  • Do not try to move a power line with anything.
  • If you are in a vehicle that contacted a live power line stay inside your vehicle. Use your cell phone to get help.
  • Only allow first responders to approach the car to assist you.
  • If you are in your car and there is fire or some other immediate hazard:
    • Do not touch your vehicle and the ground at the same time.
    • Open the door without touching the metal doorframe.
    • Exit the vehicle with both feet on the ground at the same time.
    • Keep both feet on the ground. Shuffle in any direction heel to toe.
  • Do not attempt to assist anyone near a downed power line. Call 911.


Portable gas generators present the threat of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning if the generator is not operated properly. Be aware that there is a reason that CO is called “the silent killer.” Always keep operating, ten-year sealed Carbon Monoxide alarms on every level or your home and be aware of the following symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning even when when operating a portable generator in the proper manner.

Early symptoms may mimic the flu without the fever and can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

A life-threatening exposure can include these symptoms:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

For more information about DCA, visit or follow the Department on social media:


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