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How to Use a Portable Generator Safely – Tips for Safe Refueling, Running, and Storage for Generators

How to Use a Portable Generator Safely

A portable generator is a type of power source that can be used in an emergency and provides temporary power to your home when the main electric grid fails. When using one, you should always consider safety, fuel storage and running your generator.

 

Generator Safety Tips

1. Always read the owner’s manual and safety labels before using the generator.

2. Inspect the generator for damage or loose fuel lines.

3. For more information, see the OSHA portable generators fact sheet.

 

Carbon Monoxide From Generators Can Kill in 5 Minutes

At least 770 people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the US since 2011, and the number is likely much higher due to incomplete data. Portable generators with a built-in sensor that shuts off if CO levels build up are a new way to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning When Using a Generator

1. Never operate a generator in a garage, utility building, shed, or basement.

2. Always use STA-BIL Storage Fuel Stabilizers to protect your generators.

3. Always keep your generators pointed away from the house.

4. Install a CO detector on your generator in case of poisoning.

5. Secure your generator with a high-strength chain and lock.

 

How to Use a Generator and Stay Safe

Portable generators should not be used in wet or rainy conditions, and should be avoided if there is a carbon monoxide alarm sounding.

  • Do not touch the generator with wet hands and do not attempt to turn it off.
  • Do not refuel the generator while it is still hot.
  • Do not add gasoline to the generator while it is still hot.

 

Buy a Generator That Passes Consumer Reports’ Safety Test

Consumer Reports recommends only generators that pass their CO safety technology test. The Ryobi RYi4022X inverter generator meets Consumer Reports’ criteria for excellent CO safety. New safety standards for generators require models with an auto shutoff to be rated Good or Very Good. If your generator doesn’t have an auto shutoff, you should follow the safety advice below to ensure you’re safe.

When operating a portable generator, always follow these basic safety tips:

  • Never refuel while the engine is running or hot. Turn off the engine and let it cool down before refueling.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area away from the unit. Use only fresh fuel; never use fuel that has been stored for more than 30 days.
  • If using propane, make sure there are no leaks in the system before operating the generator by checking all connections with soapy water. Never store or use propane near an open flame.
  • Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed, or other enclosed space – even if doors and windows are open – because deadly carbon monoxide (CO) fumes can build up quickly and silently kill you and your family members without warning.

 

5 Safer Generators From Consumer Reports’ Tests

1. The Ryobi RYi4022X inverter generator meets Consumer Reports’ requirements for an Excellent CO safety rating.

2. New generators must have CO safety shutoffs to earn a Good or Very Good rating.

3. Older models without CO safety shutoffs will earn a Poor rating and won’t be recommended.

4. The Honda EU2200i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator has an automatic CO shutoff feature that makes it safe to use indoors or in other enclosed spaces.

5. The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator is also equipped with a CO Shut Off feature, making it a safe choice for indoor use as well.

 

Do You Have to Turn Off Your Main Breaker When Using a Generator?

If you’re using a portable generator, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent electrocution and fire. One of the most important safety measures is to disconnect your home’s main breaker before starting up the generator.

The main breaker is located in your home’s electrical panel and controls all of the circuits in your house. If you don’t disconnect the main breaker, the electrical current from the generator can backfeed into the outside power grid. This can energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings, posing a serious risk of electrocution.

To be safe, always disconnect your main breaker before starting up your portable generator. Once you’ve turned off the main breaker, you can then plug in your appliances and start using them. Just be sure to turn off any appliances that you’re not using so that they don’t overload the system. And when you’re finished using the generator, be sure to turn off all appliances and reconnect your main breaker before shutting down the generator.

 


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