Generators are an important component of a home safety plan. Whether a powerful storm has knocked out the electricity or it is out for some other reason, the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a backup generator is invaluable. On the other hand, if a generator isn’t handled with care, it can become an unsafe appliance.
According to Consumer Reports between 2005 and 2017, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators killed more than 900 people, and thousands more were injured. This is just one of the reasons why homeowners prefer a standby generator installed by professionals to take care of their home. However, if you have a portable generator, here are a few tips to help you maintain your portable generator and ensure you’re always operating it safely:
- Know Your Product: It’s important to know your generator and its specifications because generators are not all the same. For example, if your portable generator cannot sustain the appliances connected to it, there could be a meltdown, which may result in a fire. It’s important not to exceed the wattage recommendations of your generator and refrain from overloading it.
- Safe Operation: A generator should never be operated inside your home whether portable or otherwise. Because most of these appliances require gas or diesel to operate, carbon monoxide fumes are a byproduct of gas machinery exhaust. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it can be extremely dangerous. By the time you realize that your home or space has filled with carbon monoxide, it could be too late. Carbon monoxide does not mix with air as it’s heavier, so it’s hard to remove it from your space with fans or by placing it near an open window. So, it’s best never to bring your generator indoors.
- Careful Fueling: On a portable generator, it’s important to practice careful fueling and refueling. If your system is operating, it’s important that it never be allowed to run out of gas while it’s still on because it can lead to irreparable damage to your generator. Refueling your generator can be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Fuel evaporation can leave you at risk of being poisoned, and refueling a hot generator can create a fire hazard.
- Safe Storage and Handling Practices: Your generator is only as helpful as your safety and usage practices. Fuel fumes present a serious safety hazard, and they should be appropriately stored and handled with caution. In many cases, fumes from fuel are more flammable than liquid fuel. Fuel should be stored in an appropriately rated container. Generator owners should refrain from storing their fuel in glass or plastic containers. Gas should be stored in a well-ventilated area, and you should never smoke or handle an open flame when handling fuel storage.
- Create Precautionary Safeguards: No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but it’s necessary to plan for the worst and do your best to avoid dangerous appliance malfunctions. You should put precautions into place, like fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, to protect against fires and fumes. A little preparation goes a long way in protecting your home and family.
- Install Sturdy Equipment and Practice Good Maintenance: When your generator operates outdoors, it can experience wear and tear from exposure. Your cables and wires can also become damaged if they are in a space where they are beaten up by foot traction or weathering. A portable generator will need a sturdy cable that is designed for outdoor usage. Outdoor cables are durable and capable of withstanding heavy weathering and being trampled by foot traffic. Your cable should also be able to handle the power you want to carry between your appliance and home. Trying to cut corners by purchasing ill-fitted or incompatible equipment can lead to overheating cables, electrocution, and fires. The same goes with the maintenance of your appliance and the equipment used to operate it. If your cables, wires, or supporting equipment are shoddy, then your generator is not being operated safely.
- Avoid Backfeeding: Backfeeding is the practice of running the cord directly into your home’s outlets. Backfeeding is problematic because it puts your generator and your home at risk of damages. It can also cause an electrical loopback which is dangerous for those interacting with the grid outside the home. To prevent these things, portable generators have outlets and standby generators are wired to your home. These conventional safety standards are general practices meant to help keep your house safe.
Key Takeaways for Generator Safety
The key takeaways when thinking about how to remain safe when using a generator are preparation and routine. Preparing your system for usage and creating a routine for generator usage will ensure you don’t leave out safety steps when using your appliance.
Unlike a portable generator, a standby generator will eliminate the need for most of these safety tips as it will do most of the work for you. A generator specialist can help you figure out the best generator option for your home, and ensure proper safety and installation.
Call us today at (800) 985-8103 to schedule a free consultation or to request more information on standby generators.