As a homeowner, you may keep a portable electric generator on hand to help power one or more critical items in your home during a power outage. But, do you know how to operate it safely? Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind when using your generator.
Every generator is unique so it’s important to read and understand the manufacturer’s instruction manual, says the National Safety Council (NSC). If you’ve misplaced or lost your manual, contact your generator’s manufacturer, says the Consumer Energy Center.
Generators emit carbon monoxide (CO), often referred to as the “silent killer” since it is colorless and odorless gas. According to the American Red Cross, unsafe amounts of CO can quickly build up in enclosed spaces or be blown in through an open window or vent. Make sure to always run your generator outside, far away from windows or vents, and never run it inside your home or garage, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Most portable generators are powered by gasoline so make sure to always store gas in a safe container and far away from the generator, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Never refuel your generator when it’s running, warns the NFPA. When refueling the generator, always turn it off and wait for it to completely cool down before adding fresh fuel, says the CPSC. If your generator sits idle for 30 or more days, you may want to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank, says the NSC.
Generators often produce powerful electrical currents. To help avoid the risk of electrocution, never operate your generator if it’s wet or the surrounding area looks wet, says the CPSC. Also, don’t forget to protect your generator from any exposure to rain and snow, says the NSC.
Never plug your generator directly into an outlet in your garage or home, says the Consumer Energy Center. This may cause “backfeed” power into the utility company’s lines, which can be dangerous for utility workers trying to fix a downed power line, says the CPSC.
Safety is key when operating your generator. Remember to always follow these tips when it comes time to using your generator to help you and your family stay safe.