(WHTM) — As different parts of the country face rain, wind, and snow, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) is urging consumers to take steps to protect themselves from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fires.

According to the CSPC, portable generators can create a risk of CO poisoning that can kill an individual within minutes. If you find yourself bringing out a portable generator when you lose power, it is important to remember the risks that are associated with the generator.

Portable generators can omit CO, which is also known as an invisible killer because of its colorless and odorless makeup. People who are exposed to CO may become unconscious before they experience CO-poisoning symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or weakness. This can lead to death.

The CSPC provided the following tips to stay safe:

Stay safe when operating a portable generator:

  • Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or shed. Opening windows or doors won’t prevent CO poisoning
  • Operate your portable generator at least 20 feet away from a house, and direct its exhaust away from any buildings that someone could enter
  • Make sure that your portable generator has been maintained properly
  • Look for portable generators that have a CO shut-off safety feature

Check CO and Smoke Alarms

  • Install battery-operated CO alarms with battery backup on each level and outside separate sleeping areas at home
  • Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every level and inside each bedroom at home
  • Test CO and smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are working properly
  • Clear snow away from the outside vents for fuel-burning appliances like furnaces, so that CO does not build up in the house

Dangers with Portable Heaters

  • Keep all sides of portable heaters at least 3 feet away from beds, clothes, curtains, papers, sofas, and other flammable items
  • Always use a wall outlet, never a power strip and never run the heater’s cord under rugs or carpeting
  • Make sure the heater isn’t near water
  • Never leave it running unattended in a confined space to reduce hyperthermia hazards
  • If the cord or plug is hot, disconnect the heater and contact an authorized repair person. If any outlet is hot, contact a certified electrician

Dangers with Charcoal and Candles

  • Never use charcoal indoors, this can produce lethal levels of CO. This includes cooking on a charcoal grill in a garage, even with the door open
  • Use caution when burning candles and don’t put them near anything flammable. Never leave them unattended

Dangers with Gas Leaks

  • If you smell or hear gas leaking, leave your house immediately and contact local gas authorities from outside the home. Don’t operate any electronics before leaving the home