Before you grab your portable generator to use it for backup power, there are important lifesaving safety steps you should know. It is best to familiarize yourself with how to use a generator properly before needing one. Be sure to do the following:
- Check carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Protect yourself and those you love by making sure there are battery-operated CO testers in your home that are working properly/have fresh batteries.
- Read the instructions. Many people are tempted to skip this step, but incorrectly using a generator can cause CO poisoning, which is often deadly. These are instructions you should take the time to read.
- Know how to use one properly. Operate generators at least 20 feet from doors and windows and never use one in any type of enclosed structure, such as a garage, shed or tent. If your RV has a generator, be sure to operate it safely to avoid CO poisoning.
- Keep it dry. If it is wet outside, place the portable generator on a tarp. If it is raining or snowing, position it under a portable canopy (but not under a carport).
- Keep utility workers and others safe. Never plug a portable generator into a wall outlet. Never use a permanent generator without throwing the transfer switch. Doing either of these things can cause dangerous backfeed into the power grid.
- Make sure the transfer switch is endorsed by a reputable testing laboratory, such as UL, and that the installation meets all applicable electrical codes.
- Plug items directly into a portable generator and use heavy-duty extension cords that are in good working condition and are the correct gauge. The lower the gauge number and the thicker the cord, the more electricity it can safely carry; refer to the owner’s manual for specifics. Do not plug one extension cord into another.
- Let the generator cool down before refueling. Also, store fuel safely.
- Keep it well maintained and have it inspected regularly.
To learn more, visit SafeElectricity.org.