Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting form improper use of portable generators:
TO AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARDS:
- Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents.
- NEVER use generators in homes, garages, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
- Follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery back-up) carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home, following manufacturer's instructions.
- Test CO alarms often and replace batteries when needed.
TO AVOID ELECTRICAL HAZARDS:
- Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure.
- Dry your hands before touching the generator.
- Plug appliances directly into generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Make sure entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
- Never plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as backfeeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer.
- If necessary to connect generator to house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment. Or, your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch.
TO AVOID FIRE HAZARDS:
- Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
- Always store fuel outside of living areas in properly labeled non-glass containers.
- Store fuel away from any fuel burning appliance.
Source: The U.S. Fire Administration, Dept. of Homeland Security