Stay Connected Safely

Complacency around portable electric generators is deadly. Following these safety precautions can help keep you and your family safe while you wait for the power to come back on.

  • Never operate a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, including homes, garages and basements. Generators produce high levels of carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless, deadly gas – very quickly. It’s a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. That way, if carbon monoxide enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound a warning to you. Adequate ventilation is necessary and proper refueling practices as described in your owner's manual must be followed. Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers, and away from fuel-burning appliances. Before refueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Keep the generator dry. To protect it from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure.
  • 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.
  • When using an appliance or tool at a considerable distance from the generator, a 3-wire extension cord that has a 3-blade grounding plug and a 3-slot receptacle that accepts the tools plug should be used.
  • Under no circumstances should an extension cord be run from one house to another to help out a neighbor in a storm situation.
  • Do not connect your generator directly to your household wiring, as this can backfeed along the power lines and electrocute or kill anyone coming in contact with the lines, including neighbors, yourself, and lineworkers making repairs. If you must connect your generator in this manner, contact URE for the installation of a transfer switch.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Never exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading can cause serious damage to your generator or appliances. A portable generator should be used only to power essential equipment or appliances. Before purchasing a generator, list all of the appliances that are going to operate at the same time. Then determine the starting wattage requirements and the running wattage requirements. It’s very important that a properly sized generator be used and not calculating the load before purchase can lead to undersizing. Wattage requirements vary with different brands of appliances. Be sure to check the nameplate on the appliances you plan to use. Always start your largest electric motor first, then plug in other items one at a time.
  • Make sure any generator you purchase is listed with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and/or Factory Mutual (FM).
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation and maintenance.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.