Anyone who owns a generator should be prepared to operate it safely if the need arises. Here are some tips:
- All gas-powered engines emit CO, a colorless, odorless gas that can build up to fatally toxic levels. Generators must only be operated outside of inhabited structures in a well-ventilated area and should never be placed anywhere near windows, doors, vents or other openings.
- If you’re going to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a generator, pitch in the extra twenty or thirty bucks for a CO alarm. That’s a tremendous bargain for the life-safety benefit.
- Never operate a generator on the balcony of a multi-unit structure. The boundaries of most balconies force you to place the generator too close to your own living areas, as well as those of your neighbors.
- Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running or still hot. Turn it off and allow it to cool before adding fuel.
- Take extreme care not to spill fuel onto the generator or the surrounding area.
- Read your generator’s manual very carefully. Follow all directions and pay close attention to the electrical load rating. Never overload the generator.
- Never attempt to connect a portable generator to the main electrical panel in your home. Not only is this very dangerous for occupants, it is also fatally dangerous for electrical workers who are trying to restore power.
If you haven’t used your generator in a while, or you’re pretty sure you’re done with it, here are some tips for safe storage:
- When you pull your generator out after any storage period, remember to inspect it carefully for broken or missing parts. Wipe off all dust.
- Store the generator in a dry, well-ventilated area with the fuel tank empty.
- Give it a good cleaning before storing. Remove traces of oil, dirt and other foreign matter.
- Do not store near fuel supplies.
- Do not store near appliances such as water heaters or pumps, especially if they are gas-powered.