Tuesday, November 28, 2023


RV Electricity – Important generator safety reminder!

By Mike Sokol

Dear Readers,

As Part 2 of my series on staying safe in cold weather (you should remember last week’s article on portable space heater safety), it’s time to remind you all about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from running a generator inside of (or even near) your house or RV.

But first, read this heartbreaking story from this past Sunday:

Two children and two adults died from carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday morning in Dallas, firefighters say. CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports the Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to an emergency carbon monoxide call around 9:30 a.m. at a house under construction. The property owner, identified as Hector Medrano, made the call after he found two men and two children dead inside, according to The Associated Press.

Medrano said the two men were working on the house. The workers and the two children who belong to one of them slept in the house overnight. Both children are under 2 years of age. Identities have not been released.

They were using a generator, which was originally placed outside; however, someone tried to steal it. In response to the attempted crime, the men brought it inside the house to keep it safe. Firefighters said it’s unknown how long the generator was inside the house. It was on long enough to reach fatal levels, they said. The victims were found in the back bedroom, CBS DFW reports. The generator was found in a separate room. 

So first of all, does everyone have an operational carbon monoxide alarm in their house/RV? If not, then get thee to a big box store and get one TODAY or you can get one on Amazon here.

Remember, not only can a generator create a fatal dose of CO, anything that burns can make this colorless, odorless gas that will lull you to sleep and kill you while you’re dreaming.

Secondly, NEVER place any kind of generator inside of an occupied structure, and that includes the porch or attached garage. All generators create carbon monoxide, and it takes surprisingly little time for it to build up.

Finally, a portable generator should be located at least 10 feet away from any windows on your house or RV. And never place it UNDER your RV to keep it safe from thieves and weather (which I have indeed seen more than once). While this may seem impractical in some situations, especially if you’re worried about someone stealing your expensive generator, then consider the possible consequences of sucking fumes in an unsealed window on your RV while you and your family sleep.

One possible solution that I’ve seen a few times is to locate the generator in the bed of the tow vehicle and chain it in place. Or put it in front of your truck on the ground and chain it to the bumper. That would seem to be a good solution to the stealing problem, plus it locates the generator far enough away from your RV to prevent CO infiltration.

Just remember, anything that burns any sort of fuel can generate deadly carbon monoxide gas, even catalytic propane heaters if something goes wrong. So a CO alarm is one of the best lifesaving investments you can make to protect yourself and your family.

Let’s play safe out there….


Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.




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JIM ODELL (@guest_41382)
4 years ago

how about info on adding an outlet to an Onan 5500 generator for powering outside devices or your home during an outage?

John M (@guest_40251)
4 years ago

Hi Mike,
I totally enjoy reading your articles on Rv Electricity. I do have a question for you. Do you also have experience/expertise with RV TV/Video to include satellite systems (like winegard)?
I read you are offering your services at a very reasonable cost per hour for electrical issues. If you have the expertise, I would sure like to use your services to go completely through this Motorhomes satellite video systems with me.

Best Regards,

Kevin (@guest_40086)
4 years ago

My wife and I are deaf and do enjoy camping very much with our travel trailer. Looking for low cost alert that flash light for our alarm system as we have in our house to alert us. What we have in our house is very expensive but we feel safe. One option we could is take the system out of house and transfer to our second home. Bit it would be pain in butt to move back and forth. I’m looking around to find decent system for our trailer.

RV Staff
4 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Hi, Kevin. I don’t know if you’ve checked on Amazon for what you’re looking for, but here is a combination CO and smoke detector strobe light for hearing impaired folks. It’s pricey, but could very well be worth the investment, and save the hassle of moving it between your homes. https://amzn.to/2tgLIjH Good luck in finding what you need, and hopefully you’ll never be alerted by it! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Mike Sokol (@guest_40589)
4 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Radio Shack used to make a warning strobe light that was activated by loud warning alarms specifically for those who were deaf, but that was 30 years ago. I’ll be on the lookout for something similar.

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