Portable power generators are often the first thing people turn to during a power outage caused by a storm to make sure their home’s important appliances and sump pump have power. Improperly using a generator like this can lead to danger. According to the CPSC’s report, 220 people died from carbon monoxide while using portable generators during storm outages from 2005–2016. Here are safety tips to make using a portable generator safer:
- Never run a generator in an enclosed space or indoors. Most generator-involved deaths involved Carbon Monoxide poisoning from using the generator in an enclosed or partially-enclosed space. Death can happen in as little as five minutes when a person is exposed to Carbon Monoxide and portable generators produce a lot of it.
- Keep the generator at least 15 feet away from doors and windows.
- Use a working carbon monoxide detector when running a generator to keep the lights on in a home.
- Don’t run a portable generator in the rain unless you cover and vent it.
- Don’t refuel a hot generator. Turn it off and let it cool first. This will prevent any gas spilled on hot engine parts from igniting and reduce the risk of burns.
- Store extra gas for the generator in gas containers. Keep them away from any potential sources of heat or fire, or inside the house.
- Avoid electrical hazards by plugging appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that has no damage.
- Don’t try to backfeed your house by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. This will cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served using the same utility transformer. This will also bypass built-in household circuit protection devices, and may fry your electronics or start an electrical fire.
Have your electrician, install a transfer switch for a 5,000-rated-watt or larger generator. This will connect generator to your circuit panel so you can get power to hardwired appliances and avoid the danger of using extension cords.