Portable Generator Safety Tips
How to Safely use your Portable Generator
Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns. Below are guidelines for safely connecting and operating portable generators.
Connecting Your Generator
The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch. The transfer switch transfers power from the electrical power lines to the power coming from your generator.
Don’t Overload the Generator.
Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator. Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment.
Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide. When used in a confined space, generators can produce high levels of CO within minutes. When you use a portable generator, remember that you cannot see or smell CO. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO.
Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house. Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to the elements, preferably under a canopy, open shed or carport.
Use the Proper Power Cords.
Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Don’t use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. Make sure the cords from the generator don’t present a tripping hazard. Don’t run cords under rugs where heat might build up or cord damage may go unnoticed.
Read and Adhere to the Manufacturer’s Instructions.
Don’t cut corners when it comes to safety. Carefully read and observe all instructions in your portable electric generator’s owner manual for safe operation.
Make Sure your Generator is Properly Grounded.
To prevent electrical shock, consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding procedures.
Do not store fuel indoors, fuel for your generator should be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers. Avoid spilling fuel on hot components. Put out all flames or cigarettes when handling fuel. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator. Never attempt to refuel a portable generator while it’s running.
More Important Generator Safety Tips
Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.
Avoid getting burned.
Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation.
Keep children away from portable electric generators at all times.
Purchase only quality approved generators which have been certified by the necessary local control boards.