Generator Safety

Portable generators are useful during power outages, but if not used safely, they can cause injuries and death.

If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.

The following tips are merely supplemental and are not intended to substitute reading of the Owners Manual for your specific generator.

Electrocution Hazard and Electrical Shock Hazards

  • Your service must be disconnected from the utility grid before energizing the service with a portable generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generators, and help utility workers, other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution.

  • If you are unsure of how to safely hook up your portable generator to your household wiring, call a qualified electrician.

  • The problem of backfeeding to the utility grid is a potential risk for electrical energy workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths. Following safety guidelines can reduce this risk.

  • Do not connect your generator directly to your home's wiring or into a regular household outlet.

  • Always start or stop the generator only when no electrical loads are connected.

  • Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home's wiring can 'back feed' onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers. 

  • Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Do not overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the than the output rating of the generator. Prioritize your needs. A portable generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment. Keep in mind that motor starting loads such as refrigerators, freezers, pumps etc. can draw up to 5 times their normal running amps when starting.

  • Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Do not use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding.

  • Do not operate the generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow.

  • The generator must be properly grounded. If the generator is not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. We strongly recommend that you check and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations relating to grounding.

    Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

  • Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. Exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly poisonous gas you cannot see or smell.

  • Because outdoors is the only safe place to operate a portable generator, taking it outside is absolutely mandatory to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide. Generator use is a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

  • Never run a generator indoors or in partially enclosed areas such as garages.

  • Only use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, crawl spaces and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and will not accumulate deadly exhaust gas.

  • It is recommended that you install battery operated Carbon Monoxide alarms/detectors indoors according the manufacturer's instructions/recommendations.

    Gasoline, Fueling and Burn Safety

  • Gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive.

  • If tank is over-filled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion.

  • Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion

  • Never add fuel while unit is running or hot. Allow room for fuel expansion.

  • Never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach an open flame, spark or pilot light.

  • Do not smoke near fuel or generator.

  • Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation and while the generator is cooling after turning off. Avoid coming into contact with a hot generator.

    Generator Placement and Operation

  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.

  • Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating.

  • Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures, but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting.

  • Operate the generator only on level surfaces and where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, dust or corrosive vapors.

  • Inspect the generator regularly and contact the nearest authorized dealer for parts needing repair or replacement.

  • Always disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it cannot contact the spark plug to prevent accidental starting when setting up, transporting, adjusting or making repairs to the generator.