Generator Safety

Posted: November 21, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Uncategorized

Portable generators can offer convenience for use on construction sites, at special event locations and for use during periods of prolonged power outages.  They can also be very dangerous if used improperly.  Our portable generator safety tips below can help you avoid personal injury and expensive damage.

Always operate the generator outdoors – Never indoors or in an attached garage.
Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, making it undetectable to humans.  This deadly gas can cause health problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness, and even death.  Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house.  Only operate a generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed or carport.

Never connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring.
Connecting a portable generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others.  A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can ‘back-feed’ onto the power lines connected to your home.  Utility transformers can then “step-up” or increase this back-feed to thousands of volts—enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house.  You could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment and your generator.

The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch.  The transfer switch transfers power from the utility power lines to the power coming from your generator.

Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet.
Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize “dead” power lines and cause injury to neighbors or utility workers.  Always connect individual appliances that have their outdoor-rated power cords directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator with the appropriate outdoor-rated extension-cord having a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.

Never overload the generator.
Overloading your generator can seriously damage your appliances and electronics, as well as the generator itself.  Always prioritize your needs.  A portable generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment.  Your generator is also equipped to power only a certain amount of wattage.  Exceeding that wattage rating will also overload the generator.  Never operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator.

Safety, Safety, Safety
Remember “safety first” when operating a portable generator.

  • Always use the proper power or extension cords
  • Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation
  • Never store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator
  • Keep children away from portable electric generators at all times.

Always plan ahead for your generator needs.
In the Pacific Northwest, fall and winter sometimes bring major storms that result in prolonged power outages.  Ideally, the best time to get a generator is well before the storm is announced.  Once the storm is announced, many times your local rental centers (as well as other outlets) almost instantly run out of generators.  If you find yourself in need of a generator, and looking to rent one, remember to call ahead to reserve a unit (or get on the waiting list if it’s storm related).

For more information on operating your portable generator safely, check out the following resources below.


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