Generators can be a life saver (even quite literally). Even for just keeping yourself entertained, having a generator helps you know that the next few hours or days of your power outage are going to be salvaged by having a back-up power source.

That said, generators can be a hazard as much as they can be a luxury. You’ve probably seen when they backfire – mostly in regards to fires, electric shocks and carbon monoxide gas.

The majority of dangers can be prevented during installation by having certified professionals perform the job. However, there are still things that you as the homeowner can do to improve your own safety, especially when it comes to running the generator once the power’s gone out. We’ll give a rundown on how to prevent each of the three major hazards—fires, electric shocks and carbon monoxide poisoning—in the list below.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Make sure the generator is in an area that receives ventilation. What most people don’t know is that generators can produce carbon monoxide very quickly (one generator can produce the same amount of carbon monoxide as 100 cars); so just having it in a closed garage for an hour is not going to work.

    Also remember that CO fumes don’t carry a scent. That means if you start feeling dizzy or weak, go out and get some fresh air immediately.
  • Keep the unit away from doors or windows, or any throughway which would allow the fumes to travel inside your home

Electrical shocks

  • Dry your hands before touching the generator. This is important for you and the safety of your generator – these machines cannot be exposed to any wet conditions (including moisture).
  • When using appliances, plug them directly into the generator. If that’s not possible, use an extension cord that is rated equally to the watts or amps that your appliances carry.
  • Do NOT plug the generator directly into a wall outlet. This is called “backfeeding”, and risks electrocution to anyone that uses the same utility transformer (including future electricians and your neighbors). Your best bet is to hook it up to a transfer switch (as installed by professionals).
  • Shut down all appliances before turning off your generator.
  • Keep children and pets away from generator while its operating. This machine can get hot when it’s in operation.

Fires

  • Let the generator cool down before refueling. If the engine is still hot, contact with gasoline could cause a fire.
  • Keep your generator at least three feet away from anything flammable.

The most important thing is to read the instruction manual that comes with your generator. This will contain all the information that’s relevant to using your generator safely, especially during a power outage.

If you have any questions at all, let our service team know. We’ll get back to you very shortly.