Access Home Tips: Generator Safety
If you lose power during a major storm or hurricane, a generator can help you carry on until power is restored. They can safely power important electrical equipment such as computers, water pumps, refrigerators and lighting. However, generators can also be very dangerous if not used properly.
The most effective way to avoid portable generator mishaps is to make sure you fully understand the proper operating procedures by reading and follow the manufacturer’s manual and guidelines before trying to operate your generator.
In addition, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has offered the following basic tips on generator safety:
- Closely follow all manufacturer’s directions and pay close attention to the electrical load rating.
- Use a heavy gauge, outdoor-rated extension cords to run into the house to power your refrigerator or other appliances. Be sure the extension cords can handle the wattage you send through them.
- If you don’t want to use extension cords, you can have a licensed electrician connect a portable generator directly to your home with a transfer switch. This will redistribute power from the generator to the circuit panel. Do not attempt to connect the generator to your home wiring system, fuse box or circuit breaker yourself. If not correctly connected, the power can flow outside the house to the power lines and injure workers trying to restore power.
- Don’t exceed the recommended wattage. Don’t try to run high-wattage items like the air conditioner, an electric stove or hot water heater unless you’re sure your generator can handle it.
- Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator. Let the unit reach operating speed before connecting anything. Start the largest electric appliance first, then plug in other items, one at a time.
- Never refuel a generator while it is running or still hot.
- Disconnect electrical items before turning off the engine. Don’t allow the engine to run out of gas as this may cause damage to connected appliances.
- To prevent electrical shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded. Consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding procedures.
For more tips and safety updates, visit cpsc.gov.