Using Your Generator Safely

Using Your Generator Safely
Using Your Generator Safely
Power outages can cause a number of safety concerns, especially as residents seek heat from
alternatives sources.
A generator can be an effective energy source during a power outage, but using it safely requires your
attention. Always read the directions that come with the device.
NEVER use a portable generator indoors
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Never use a portable generator in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed or
partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not
prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home.
 Remember: You cannot smell Carbon Monoxide.
Incorrect generator use can lead to CO poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust,
electric shock, or electrocution and fire.
Install home CO alarms that are battery-operated or have battery back-up. Test
batteries frequently and replace when needed.
If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away — do
not delay!
Using your generator outdoors
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Place the generator away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. Operate it
on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure. Make sure your hands are dry before
touching the generator.
Use and store generator fuel safely
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Turn the generator off and let it cool before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could
ignite.
Store generator fuel in an approved safety can outside of living areas. Local laws may restrict use
or storage of fuel. Ask your local fire department for information.
If you spill fuel, or do not seal its container properly, invisible vapors can travel along the ground
and be ignited by an appliance’s pilot light or arcs from electric switches in the appliance.
Use only the type of fuel recommended in the generator instructions or on its label.
Don’t overload your generator
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Determine the amount of power you will need. Light bulb wattage indicates the power needed.
Appliance and equipment labels indicate their power requirements. If you can’t determine the
amount of power you will need, ask an electrician.
Make sure your generator produces more power than will be drawn by the things you connect to
the generator including the initial surge when it is turned on. If your generator does not produce
enough power to operate everything at once, stagger the use of your equipment.
If your equipment draws more power than the generator can produce, you may blow a fuse on the
generator or worse yet, damage the connected equipment!
Connect your generator correctly
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Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that
is rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance
loads.
Never try to power your house by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a
practice known as “back feeding”. It can lead to the electrocution of utility
workers or neighbors served by the same utility transformer.
The only safe way to connect a generator to house wiring is to have a qualified
electrician install a power transfer switch.
CITY OF BOTHELL – EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
18415 – 101st Avenue NE ● Bothell, Washington 98011
Phone: (425) 806-6242 ● Fax: (425) 806-6135
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