When a storm hits and your home loses power many people turn to a portable generator. Although generators may seem simple enough to use many people do not know the risks of operating one.
Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. The primary hazard is the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust. Carbon monoxide does not produce an odor and is invisible to the eye. That is why it is important to practice safe handling.
1. NEVER use a generator indoors including a garage (even with an open door). The best and only place you should place an operating generator is outdoors. Allow 5 feet of clearance around the generator. Be sure the generator exhaust fumes are away from all windows and doors to prevent travel indoors.
2. Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for correct placement and mounting height.
3. Avoid electric shock or electrocution by keeping the generator dry. Do not use in rain or wet conditions.
4. When refueling be sure to turn off the generator and allow to cool. Spilled gasoline on the hot engine parts can ignite causing an explosion. Do not overfill tank! Leave room of fuel expansion.
5. Never smoke near a generator.
6. Know the output rating of your generator. To prevent overloading select the right sized generator to handle the power requirements of your appliances you wish to use. Overloading can destroy not only the generator but also your electronics and/or appliances.
7. Never plug directly to your homes wiring or household outlets. Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor extension cord with the correct outage to handle your appliances. Never use a cord with exposed wiring.
Storage of fuel safely is just as important as operation of the generator. Store fuel outside living areas, such as a locked shed, in a properly labeled approved safety can. Use the fuel recommended in instructions for your generator. Some areas restrict the amount of fuel you may store so be sure to verify with your local fire dept. Do not store fuel near a fuel burning appliance like a natural gas water heater.
Practice proper generator handling to keep your home & family safe!