Here are some safety tips for installing and operating portable electric generators:
- The portable electric generator should be the correct size, with a slightly larger output than the power level needed to operate all the equipment that is connected to it. The generator and connected equipment can be damaged if an inappropriately sized generator is used.
- Do not connect a portable generator directly to a building’s wiring or plug the generator into an electrical outlet. This will cause a “backfeed” condition where the power from the generator will flow through the building’s wiring and onto the utility distribution system. This is extremely dangerous to utility line mechanics when repairing downed power lines, as they will be unaware of any “live” wires. In addition, when power is restored, it can feed directly into the portable generator, causing severe damage to the generator and any appliances plugged into it. In order to prevent backfeed or equipment damage when power is restored, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to isolate the building wiring from the utility distribution system.
- Use properly sized and rated power cords to connect equipment to the portable generator. Use heavy duty, outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords that are in good operating condition.
- Never operate a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. The generator uses an internal combustion engine and emits potentially deadly carbon monoxide. Make sure the generator is vented properly in a well ventilated outdoor area.
- Never refuel an operating or hot generator. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher near the generator.
- Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
- Portable generators are a great convenience but, like any piece of equipment, present many safety hazards. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely to ensure your generator is maintained and operated in a safe and proper manner.
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