Top 6 Generator Safety Tips

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on June 22, 2021

Generators are essential devices that help keep your family, home, or business safe. They ensure your food and water supply are kept running in the event of an emergency or extended power outages, and they provide you with peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones are protected in unprecedented circumstances.

Generators convert mechanical energy from an external source into electricity that you can use in your home. As with any electrical device, you’ll need to learn how to use it safely. To maintain their longevity and ensure your protection, you must handle generators with care. Keep both yourself and your device protected with six top generator safety tips to put into practice.

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Table of Contents

1. Don’t Run a Generator Indoors or in an Enclosed Space

Running a generator indoors or in an enclosed space is extremely dangerous. In a worst-case scenario, using a generator indoors has the potential to kill you within minutes. This is because generators produce exhaust containing carbon monoxide – a poison that cannot be smelt or seen.

Most injuries and deaths from generator use are caused by carbon monoxide poisoning due to using the devices indoors or in enclosed spaces. You must leave the vicinity of the generator immediately if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, even when outdoors.

With this in mind, never use a generator in a basement, garage, or other spaces of this size that can accumulate high levels of carbon monoxide. Always place your generator at least 20 ft. away from your house, ensuring the exhaust is positioned away from doors and windows.

2. Don’t Plug a Generator Directly into a Wall Outlet

The only safe way to isolate the power lines from your home’s circuits is by installing a transfer switch. If you plug a generator into a wall outlet, it can send unwanted power back down the utility lines.

This process is called back-feed, and besides potentially harming the mechanisms and functionality of your generator, this overload of power can also start a fire. In the worst-case scenario, it can electrocute the technicians working on your generator to bring the power back to the utility lines.

3. Don’t Overload Your Generator

Generators produce electricity by burning fuel. There are different types of generators, each running on different fuel types. However, unleaded gasoline is the most common type.

The electricity output of generators is measured in watts, ranging from 1,000 up to 10,000 watts or more. When deciding which generator is best for your needs, you’ll need to choose one that either meets or exceeds your required wattage.

If you are unsure of the number of watts you’ll need, many online calculators can help you estimate your wattage requirements. Once you’ve calculated this and chosen your generator, ensure that you only use it to power sources that can handle the number of watts your specific device delivers.

If you overload the generator, it will shut down after running for a short amount of time or not even startup. Sometimes, generators can carry on running even though they are overloaded, which is dangerous, as the device will overheat, causing damage to the inner mechanisms.

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4. Learn About Power Management

When using your generator, you’ll need to be aware of proper power management and how you can practice it. Even if your generator has enough wattage to run all your electrical appliances, you should never run everything simultaneously. Run only what you need and turn the rest of the items off. Part of determining the wattage requirements you have is knowing which appliances you want to run in an emergency. These will be all that you hook up to the generator, so choose wisely.

You may decide that having electrical power to your home lights, fridge, and well pump are the most critical elements, so their combined wattage will be your generator powers. If you live in a cold climate, perhaps having a generator to power your furnace in an emergency outage is the essential function.

This power management ensures that your generator doesn’t overload while also preserving its electricity so you can run the selected appliances longer. Note that some sources need extra power when they are first turned back on. Do your research first to avoid any potential spikes or power surges.

5. Use the Correct Amount of Fuel

Many generators that run on gasoline require fuel with 10% or less ethanol. You can also get bi-fuel generators to provide you with more fuel options in emergencies or times of crisis. These bi-fuel models often run on gasoline and propane, with some even running on propane and diesel.

When it comes to your generator, you must understand the fuel requirements of your particular model. Filling it with the wrong type of fuel can result in adverse effects, compromising or degenerating the mechanisms of the generator and even shutting it down completely.

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6. Only Refuel When Your Generator is Cool

When generators run, they become extremely hot. If you are using your device for an extended period, it will most definitely need refueling. When this time comes, ensure you turn off the hot engine and let it cool completely before refueling. This will prevent any sort of fire hazard and ensure your generator is entirely safe to approach.

You should also ensure that no flammable objects are surrounding or touching the generator when it’s operating because of the extreme heat it produces. Wear safety equipment when in the vicinity of your generator, including hearing protection and a mask.

You should also store your generator fuel in a separate location from the unit, ensuring it is in a protective fuel can. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby during the operation of the device in case of an emergency, and ensure children and pets know approaching a running generator is off-limits.

Operate Your Generator Safely

When it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your device, employing these generator safety tips ensure that everyone in the vicinity is protected.

From never running a generator in an enclosed space to ensuring you are aware of smart power management practices, you’ll be able to safely run your unit when you apply these tips.

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