Portable Generator Safety Tips

portable generator safety tipsPortable generators come in handy during power outages in residential or commercial buildings. They can be used for lighting or to power essential electrical appliances such as heaters, water pumps, computers and refrigerators. However, handling portable generators can be very dangerous if the correct precautions are not taken into account.

Understanding the operation of a portable generator is key in preventing mishaps that may compromise the safety of family members, staff and even those working towards restoring power. The following portable generator safety tips should be observed:

  1. The manufacturer’s manual should be adhered to strictly in setting up, running and maintaining the generator. If some instructions are not clear, it is advisable to seek expert advice before attempting to operate the machine.
  2. Generators should always be operated in open areas, as they emit carbon monoxide which is highly toxic. Using a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces poses health hazards and could even lead to loss of life. The operation should further be carried out far away from windows, doors and vents that lead to the house.
  3. A carbon monoxide detector is an essential addition when operating a portable generator. These are battery powered alarms that sound a warning once the carbon monoxide levels exceed a certain limit. In the absence of a detector, these levels could rise gradually while the occupants of the house are hardly aware, only noticing when they have already inhaled the toxic gas.
  4. Overloading should be avoided at all cost. The generator should only be allowed to power the appliances that it can handle; otherwise it will cause damage to the electronics.
  5. The generator should not be connected directly to the building’s wiring. A skilled electrician will install a transfer switch to avoid the direct connection. Without the switch, generators can load power through the wiring posing a serious threat to the electrical workers.
  6. The power cords to be used should be selected with precision. It is advisable to use heavy duty, outdoor rated cords. The wire gauge should match the one suggested in the manual. The extension cords should be in good condition devoid of torn insulation or exposed wires.
  7. Gasoline, even in its vapor form is highly flammable and should be kept away from flammable materials. The engine should be allowed a couple of minutes to cool down before refueling with fresh gasoline. If the generator is to sit idle for more than a month, a fuel stabilizer should be used.
  8. Finally, the generator should be switched off when the family members go to sleep or are away from home to prevent incidences of fire. Remember to switch off the generator powered appliances before the generator itself.

This list is by no means comprehensive of all the portable generator safety tips. It however contains some of the most important precautions to be taken in ensuring that the generator operation is safe. The above procedures, coupled with regular maintenance will safeguard the user and ensure that the portable generator is in service for a long time.