By Lauren Casey

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. And now is the time to plan and prepare for how to stay safe both during and after a potential storm.

Eyewitness News spoke with Lt. Lisa Desamour with the Philadelphia Fire Department about how to properly use a portable generator.

“Outside. Never, ever indoors,” Desamour said.

Outside is the one and only safe location from which to run a portable generator.

“You’d be surprised how many people will actually attempt to start a generator in the home or anywhere indoors,” Desamour said.

Though extremely helpful when a storm causes the power to go out, generators can pose a serious threat to our health and safety. The exhaust poses the primary danger: carbon monoxide poisoning.

“And, of course, with CO poisoning, it’s tasteless, it’s colorless, it’s an odorless gas and it’s known as the silent killer. And a lot of times if you’re ingesting that stuff, you don’t even know it,” Desamour said.

Last season, when Major Hurricane Laura impacted the Gulf Coast, more people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning than by the storm itself.

To keep that potentially dangerous gas away, Desamour says generators should be placed at least 5 feet from any doors, windows, or vent openings. And be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors.

“It’s recommended to have one on every single level of your home. However, for some that may not be feasible, I would say definitely in the sleeping areas,” she said.

And what do you do if your detector goes off?

“Call 911. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. We get a lot of older folks who say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother the fire department,’ bother us. That’s what we’re here for,” Desamour said.

Desamour also stressed the importance of proper refueling. She says to never refuel while the generator is on or while it is still hot. And to make sure you use an approved container for that particular fuel.