Using Electric Generators Safely

Portable electric generators can provide temporary power to a few items during a power outage. However, unsafe use of generators can damage property and injure or kill people.

Safety begins with buying a properly-sized generator. Determine which items, such as a water pump, freezer or lights, would need power in an emergency. Buy a generator that will produce the amount of power you would need. Consult a licensed electrician to determine the proper load size.

Here are some guidelines for using generators safely:

  • Do not plug more appliances into a generator than there are receptacles.
  • Do not use a generator in or near water or in a damp or enclosed area.
  • Do not operate a generator indoors.
  • Never plug the generator into a wall receptacle; a fire or electrocution may result. Electricity will back-feed from the generator into the building's wiring and the power lines outside the building. This could start a fire if wiring or the building's electric service connection has been damaged. Back-fed power also can energize downed power lines and travel through transformers. Unsuspecting electric lineworkers and other people who come into contact with downed power lines could be electrocuted. A generator plugged into a wall receptacle also could be damaged or cause damage to the building when power is restored.
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