Portable Generator Safety

Exercise Extreme Safety Precautions when Using a Portable Generator

By Mark J. Donovan

When using a portable generator it is important to first read its operating manual fully. Many people are injured and even killed annually due to improper use of portable generators. Portable generators can also cause fires and major damage to home electrical systems if used improperly.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

First and foremost it is important to use a portable generator outside, far from a home’s windows, doors and vent systems. The reason for this is that portable generators produce Carbon Monoxide (CO).

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can kill, or cause brain damage to a person without them even realizing it. Consequently it is imperative to never use a portable generator in an enclosed area, including sheds, barns, or garages, even if the doors are left open. In addition, it is wise to use a battery powered Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector in the home or area where a portable generator is being utilized.

If feeling headaches, nausea, or fatigue when a portable generator is in use, leave the premises immediately and shut down the portable generator.

Use of Proper Extension Cords

Second, it is important to use proper gauged extension cords with a portable generator and the appliances that are connected to it. Also keep in mind that a heavier gauge extension cord is required the longer the distance between the portable generator and the appliance being powered by it.

Portable Generator

Never Backfeed an Electrical Outlet with a Portable Generator

Third, never use a portable generator to back feed the main power service panel via an electrical outlet. This practice can kill line workers and homeowners, as well as potentially damage the home electrical wiring system and cause a house fire.

Properly Ground Portable Generator

Fourth, when using a portable generator it is extremely important to properly ground the portable generator.

This requires attaching a heavy gauge copper wire to the portable generator chassis and to ground, such as a metal pipe driven into the ground.

Keep Portable Generator Dry

Fifth, it is important that the generator not be exposed to water while being operated as this will create an electrocution hazard. When necessary, create an open cover, or canopy to prevent the generator from getting wet, and make sure the generator is not standing in a puddle of water.

Handle and Store Gasoline Properly

Finally, gasoline for a portable generator should not be stored in the home or garage. Instead it should be stored outside, or in a shed far from the home. Gasoline should always be stored in an approved container. In addition, a portable generator should not be refilled with gasoline until the unit has cooled down sufficiently. A hot portable generator engine is susceptible to igniting if gasoline is inadvertently spilled on it.

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