Small Generator Safety Tips

The last couple of years many portable electric generators are sold. Many of these generators are user as a backup for the household electricity. But these small generators are also used for outdoor activities like camping or hunting. And because of the electrical power they generate, safety is a very important issue. It is a fact that generators made by well known manufacturers, are built conform strict safety rules. But if not properly installed or operated even the safest generator can become a lethal hazard! In this article I will give you some tips to avoid the most common mistakes. My first tip is: read the Instruction Manual that you received when buying your generator. It is important that you know the basics of operating the generator. If you have to read the manual during an emergency for the first time you will loose too much time that is needed elsewhere. So read the manual NOW. If you lost your manual, then you can always download a copy of it at the website of the manufacturer of your generator. Be sure to have the type or serial code of your generator at hand (in case of doubt check the

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identification data on your generator), so you can be sure to download the right manual. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offer a checklist for portable generator owners. First of all they recommend that a qualified, licensed electrician should install portable electric generators to ensure that they meet local electrical codes. Because power from incorrectly installed generators can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.

  • Keep the generator dry.

  • Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load, and are free of cuts and worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.

  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment or appliances.

  • Never operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces to monitor levels. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.

  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.

  • Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers and away from fuel-burning appliances. Before re-fueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.

  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.

  • Keep children (and pets!) away from portable generators at all times.

  • I hope you find these tips useful and help you use your generator in the most safe way.
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