Generator Safety Tips: Dos & Don'ts You Need to Know
If you really want to be prepared the next time the power goes out, a portable generator is the way to go! You’ll have the lights back on in no time at all. Here are the dos and don’ts to operating your generator and keeping you and your family safe.
Portable Generator Safety Tips
- Choose the generator that's right for you. When choosing the right generator, first consider what you will be powering in your home. Will it be your lights, appliances, or other household equipment? You'll need to figure out how much power they require and total it up. You'll need to purchase a generator that produces more power than what will be drawn from your home’s equipment. If the equipment in your home draws more power than the generator can produce, you may blow a fuse on the generator or damage the connected equipment. If you can’t determine the amount of power that will be needed, ask an electrician to determine that for you.
- Store your generator properly. Always store your generator in a dry, clean area that is easy for you to get to. When the power goes out, you don’t want to be tripping over things in the dark trying to get to it!
- Use a ground wire. Use heavy duty, properly grounded extension cords to plug appliances into the generator. Without proper grounding, you could be electrocuted.
- Check all cords. Make sure to check all cords that will be plugged into the generator for frays and exposed wires.
- Maintain your generator. Always use fresh gasoline when possible. If a generator is likely to sit for long periods of time before being run again, use a gasoline stabilizer. You should start your generator at least once a month and let it run for a few minutes. If it has a battery, trickle charge the battery from time to time to ensure it's ready to go.
- Don't run your generator indoors. Never run portable generators inside your home or in your garage. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide, and the fumes can be deadly. Keep your generator away from your home’s windows and doors as well. To be on the safe side, invest in a CO alarm with battery back-up for your home; if gas from the generator has entered your home the alarm will sound to warn you.
- Don't run your generator unprotected in rain or snow. In bad weather, keep your generator in a shed, under an overhang, or beneath a portable shelter if possible. It's very important to keep your generator dry when operating. Never touch a generator with wet hands, as you could be electrocuted.
- Don't connect your generator directly to your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel. The only recommended method to connect a generator to house wiring is by having a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN install a power transfer switch. Never try and do this yourself.
- Don't refuel your generator while it's running. Shut off your generator first and let it cool down, as gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite and start a fire.
- Don't overload your generator. Use it only when necessary. Turn it off when you're asleep or away from your home to avoid a possible fire hazard.
When using a portable generator always remember, safety first! If you have any doubts about how to properly use your generator, contact the manufacturer or a licensed electrician for assistance.