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Portable Generator Safety

Portable generators are wonderful things to have for that ocasional power outage, but be careful how you connect it to your home. The simple way to use it safely is to simply connect an extension cord to the generator and then connect the freezer or refigerator to the cord. Obviously this has a lot of limitations and will not work for your furnace or other permanently connected electrical appliances. To run these larger appliances you need to have a transfer switch installed. This is usually not a good thing for a homeowner to do – hire a professional so it is done correctly and to code.

Don’t connect the generator directly to your home’s wiring. Have a qualified electrician connect the generator with a transfer switch so that it is not connected directly to your home wiring. If not installed properly, generators can feed electricity back into power lines that are connected to your home, and pose a deadly situation for electric utility workers in the area.

Don’t overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the generator can handle, as overloading your generator can seriously damage your appliances and electronics. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment.

Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. Also, never use a generator in basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even when they are ventilated. Locate the unit far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow the carbon monoxide emitted by a generator to come indoors. Carbon monoxide can be deadly.

Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.

Always turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling it.

Keep children and pets away from electric generators at all times.

Use the proper power cords. Only use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated power cords with an adequate wire gauge. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Never use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. Make sure the cords from the generator don’t present a tripping hazard and protect the cords from getting pinched or crushed if they pass through a window or doorway.

Prevent electrical shock — make sure your generator is properly grounded. Your manufacturer’s manual contains the correct grounding procedures. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.

Always remember to turn off the generator while you sleep and when you are away from home to avoid a possible fire hazard.

For more information see the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov, Electrical Safety Foundation International at www.esfi.org or The National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org.


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Jim P. Simmons Mr. Electric

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