Portable generators are a useful  when temporary power is needed, but they can also be hazardous. Every year, people die needlessly in incidents related to portable generator use. With all of the recent power outages associated with increasing storms, medical situations, and acts beyond the local power utilities control nation wide, residential use of portable generators has grown rapidly. With this has come an increase in the number of accidents associated with the use of generators. Here are a few safety points to consider before using a generator.

 

  • CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARDS
    • NEVER use a generator indoors or in an enclosed or partially enclosed area, because they can produce high levels of CO very quickly. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGH AWAY. DO NOT DELAY. The CO from generators can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home
    • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home. Test your CO alarms frequently and replace batteries.
  • ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
    • Keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. Dry your hands if wet before touching the generator.
    • NEVER try to power the house by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as "back feeding." This is an extremely dangerous practice that presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
    • A Generator Transfer Switch , now required by the National Electrical Code(NEC), is the key to safe and convenient operation of portable generators for standby power. The switch should be installed by a qualified electrician. By isolating those circuits using generator power, a transfer switch eliminates the risk to back feeding the electrical utility.
  • FIRE HAZARDS
    • Never store fuel or refuel your generator in the home or near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage. Invisible vapors from spilled fuel can travel along the ground and be ignited by the appliance's pilot light or electric switches.
    • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.