When you need power, a portable generator can be a helpful device to have kicking around. It allows you to run household items like lights, refrigerators, or even a computer by simply plugging it in with a cord. No longer do you have to be in the dark when the power comes out if you have a portable generator. However, as great as they are, there are some important considerations to make regarding safety when using a portable generator inside your home, cabin or workspace. Follow these 5 tips to safely use a portable generator so that you can enjoy power without harm.
1. Keep the Generator a Good Distance Away
Portable generators release noxious gases, such as carbon monoxide which can be deadly. Therefore, it is imperative to keep generators away from windows or inside closed spaces where toxic gases could potentially seep through and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. In case you did not know, portable generators are able to produce just as much carbon monoxide as an idling vehicle. A great way to check if your portable generator is at a safe distance away is by checking with a carbon monoxide reader or alarm. It is ideal to keep a portable generator at least 25 feet away from any window or door, and in a well-ventilated area.
2. Never Back Feed with a Generator
Backfeeding, which involves hooking up a portable generator to another electrical device or outlet, is a dangerous thing to do. When you connect a portable generator’s cord to an outlet, this allows for power to enter the house via the main panel, as well as transfers power out of the main break which can supply utility lines throughout your neighborhood. As convenient as it may be to plug the portable generator into an outlet, it is important to be cautious of this. When utility lines are supplied with excess power from your generator, it can be extremely harmful and even deadly to workers who may be around utility lines. It is important to avoid backfeeding altogether.
3. Store Extra Gasoline Properly
Having extra gasoline on hand for your portable generator is important, especially if there was a storm and you were unable to leave home, or if you are at a remote cabin and need gasoline instantly. Stocking up on enough gasoline for many uses is a good idea, but it is necessary to store it properly. Gas should be stored in an ANSI-approved container and put in a ventilated area. Additionally, do not keep it in the home in case of heat getting to it. It is advised to store it outside of the house in a dark, cool place, such as a shed or shop.
4. Inspect Cords
Always thoroughly look over the cords of your portable generator before plugging in or storing away. Damaged or cut cords are electrical hazards, and all it takes is a quick check to make sure they are in good shape to avoid a fire or spark. Additionally, check to make sure that the cords are of appropriate amps or watts for what you are using it for, and never overload your generator as it can cause a fire.
5. Avoid Getting the Generator Wet or Damp
Water is never a good idea to mix with your portable generator, whether it be from the rain or from water on your hands. If any part of the portable generator becomes wet, ensure it is completely dry before turning on. If it is raining outside when the generator is in use, put a tarp over it or place it under a tent cover to keep rain out. Just as you should never put any electrical device in water, the same goes for a portable generator.
While there are many safety concerns regarding using a portable generator, these are just some of the main safety tips to consider. Always check your portable generator over before use to ensure all parts and pieces are in working condition. And, if you notice any strange smells or smoke coming from it, turn it off immediately and have a professional look at it or buy a new one. A portable generator is a convenient device to have on hand during a power outage so that you can still use all your favorite household items even if the entire neighborhood is in darkness.