Generator Safety

Generator Selection

Safe Electricity wants you to understand the benefits, limitations, and safety considerations of generators before you even enter a store.

Before anything else, you need to know where you will put a generator. Never use a generator in your home or garage. They give off deadly carbon monoxide. You should operate your generator outdoors on a dry, level surface. Your generator should be under a canopy. Remember, water and a generator is a dangerous combination.

After you know where you will run a generator, you should decide what electronics the generator will power. A portable generator cannot meet all your electric needs. You must decide what electronics would be most important during a power outage. Add up the wattage of these appliances. Your generator should have more output than the wattage of your required electronics. This way, the generator will be able to create the extra electricity it takes to start up some appliances.

An alternative to the portable generator is a permanent generator. These generators are wired directly into your home by a qualified electrician. The electrician should also install a transfer switch. A transfer switch prevents energy from leaving your generator and getting into power lines where it could injure a line man. This is known as “back feed.”

Effects of Backfeed

  • Backfeed in electrical energy causes a potential hazard for electrical energy workers
  • Electrocutions are the 5th leading cause of all reported occupational deaths
  • Follow the safety guidelines provided with your generator to reduce the risk of electrocution

Portable Generator Safety Tips

Safe Electricity has the following tips to use portable generators safely:

  • Operate it outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation. Never run a generator in a home or garage. Generators give off deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Do not plug a generator into the wall to avoid back feed. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
  • Turn the generator on before plugging appliances to it. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage; prioritize your needs.
  • Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
  • Be sure the generator is turned off and cool before fueling it.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.