Medical Definition of Portable generator safety

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Portable generator safety: Safety, an essential matter in using a portable residential or recreational generator. Portable residential generators may be used to supply essential home power needs during power-outages, for powering cabin appliances, or for power tools needed during projects. Recreational generators are hand-carry units that are lighter in weight and quieter in sound. These units are often sold to outdoor enthusiasts.

Safety tips for operating a portable residential or recreational generator include the following:

  1. Read and observe the instructions from the generator manufacturer for safe operation before hooking up the generator.
  2. Generators emit carbon monoxide. Always run the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Do not run a generator in an enclosed area.
  3. Use the generator outdoors only (as indicated above) away from open windows, vents or doors. Deadly carbon monoxide fumes can build up. That is the reason to never use the generator inside of a home, garage, crawl-space or any other enclosed area.
  4. Do not operate the engine near combustible materials.
  5. Maintain your generator engine according to the maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
  6. Keep gas fresh. If you do not plan to use your generator for up to 30 days, stabilize the gas with a gas stabilizer.
  7. Before refueling the generator, allow the engine to cool for a least two minutes. Gasoline (and its vapors) are highly flammable.
  8. Place generator on level ground to operate.
  9. When using extension cords, be sure they are grounded, and are a sufficient wire gauge for the application. Heavy duty outdoor-rated cords will handle household appliance loads.
  10. Never plug your generator directly into your house circuit.
  11. If connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a manual power transfer switch.
  12. Do not leave your generator unattended. If you have to leave home or leave it, turn it off.

A portable residential or recreational generator can be very useful. However, these generators can be dangerous, if not used properly. Please follow the safety tips and any additional recommendations made by the manufacturer and safety authorities.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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