Published: Jul 08, 2011 6:03 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 28, 2012 8:27 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The only way to have power if the electricity is out is to hook up a generator. But you can make things worse if you don't follow some simple safety tips.

North Fort Myers Fire District Investigator, Frank Rizzo says generator safety starts with placement. A few feet from the house is preferable, not too close to soffits or any other air intake point, chained up so it can't be stolen. That way when you start it up, you can go from having little cool to drink, canned food and a humid house to having a small cool room, refrigerator, running lights and a radio or TV to keep you informed.

A generator big enough can do just that. All you have to do is send the four connectors through a slightly opened window. But check the start up power first and the total draw, so you're not plugging in too much and ruining your appliances and the generator in the process.

Another tip, make sure you have the proper extension cords hooked up that can handle the load.

If you do get a generator, another thing you should get is a carbon monoxide detector. It can literally save your life. Investigator Rizzo says to put it in your cool room. It's where you'll spend the most time and you're the most at risk. That's why a generator can't go in the garage where it's near air handlers or attic access. Even just opening the door for the cables could send inside the odorless, potentially deadly gas.

"You should know you're starting to be exposed to carbon monoxide gas basically from a headache. You might get dizziness, mental concentration issues, you get nauseated," Rizzo explained.

Generators will need gas every 10 to 12 hours, so if you're stocking up, use the correct containers. While you can go smaller and use the same safety tips, if you're looking for a generator to power up the whole house, get some professional advice first.

For more information on generator safety, click on the Lee County All Hazards guide and scroll to page 9.