Safety Tips For Using A Generator
Please take extra caution if using a portable generator during extended power outages. Portable generators do provide a good source of temporary power, but if they are installed or used improperly, they can be deadly.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following cautions on the use of gas-powered generators:
Shock and Electrocution
- Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring. Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can “backfeed” onto the power lines connected to your home. Utility transformers can then “step-up” or increase this “backfeed” to thousands of volts — enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house.
- 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 utility power lines to the power coming from your generator.
- To prevent electrical shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded. Consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding and safety procedures.
Other Useful Tips
- Set the generator outside or vent the exhaust outside to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the home.
- Attach a ground wire to the generator to assure proper grounding. Without proper grounding, the ungrounded system may use you for the ground rod and you could be electrocuted.
- Use fresh gasoline when possible. If the generator is likely to sit long periods of time before being run again, use a gasoline stabilizer.
- Start your generator at least once a month and let it run for a few minutes. If your generator has a battery, trickle charge the battery from time to time to ensure it is ready to go.
When Operating A Generator, DO NOT ...
... Run the generator in an attached garage. It will still allow fumes to penetrate the home. Keep it away from the home's windows and doors also.
... Use frayed or defective extension cords.
... Run the generator in the rain or snow. Keep it in a shed, under an overhang, or a portable shelter if possible.
... Add gasoline to a generator that is running. Always shut off the generator and let it cool down before refilling it.