Generator Safety

Generators provide a convenient temporary source of power during outages. But they can pose significant hazards if they’re not installed and operated properly.

They can even endanger the utility crews working to restore your power. Before you attempt to install or operate any fixed or portable generator, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.

Installation

  • Have a certified electrician install any generator that plugs into your home’s electrical system. It must be connected via a transfer switch, which isolates your house from the utility’s electric service while the generator is running. This stops electricity from back-feeding into the electrical system, where it can endanger utility crews working nearby. Related: Distributed Generation
  • UI leases and installs an affordable automatic transfer switch that safely connects your portable generator to your electric meter to allow you to run your home’s equipment directly from your circuit breaker panel. Learn about Shield & Connect.
  • If you plan to install a natural gas-fired generator, first consult your natural gas utility to ensure there is adequate gas pressure at your property.

Operation

  • Place portable generators outside and away from doors, windows and air vents to prevent exposure to the exhaust, which contains poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Never run a generator indoors, even in an open garage.
  • Make sure your portable generator is properly grounded, per the instruction manual.
    Inspect and maintain your generator regularly.
  • Don't touch a generator if you are wet or are standing in water or on damp ground.
    If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, get out of the building immediately and call 911.
  • Use only appropriately rated cables, connections and extension cords, in good condition, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Fire Safety

  • Never operate the generator near fuel or other combustible materials.
  • Do not try to refuel a generator while it’s running. Consult the operator’s manual for refueling instructions.
  • Keep an approved, fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never smoke, use open flames, or operate electrical switches while handling fuel.