August 3, 2022

Generator use, winter and safety

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of outdoor electrical equipment, small motors, battery power systems, portable generators, utility vehicles and personal transportation and Golf Cars, has posted 10 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind When Using Generators This Winter.

“Not having electricity when you need it is frustrating, so a generator can provide emergency back-up power at a reasonable cost,” explains Kris kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “It is important to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and never place a generator in your garage or inside your home or building. It must be at a safe distance from the structure and not near an air intake.

Other tips include:

Take stock of your generator set. Make sure the equipment is in good working order before starting and using it. Do it before a storm hits.

Review the instructions. Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions. Review owner’s manuals (look for manuals online if you can’t find them) so the equipment is used safely.

Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector indoors. This alarm will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide enter the building.

Have the right fuel on hand. Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer to protect this important investment. It is illegal to use fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor electrical equipment. (For more information on proper fueling for outdoor electrical equipment, visit It is best to use fresh fuel, but if you are using fuel that has been in a gasoline container for more than 30 days, add a fuel stabilizer to it. Store gas only in an approved container and away from heat sources.

Make sure portable generators have good ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed space or placed inside a house, building or garage, even with windows or doors open. Locate the generator outdoors and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to drift indoors.

Keep the generator dry. Do not use a generator in wet conditions. Cover and ventilate a generator. Model-specific tents or generator covers can be purchased online and at home improvement centers and hardware stores.

Add fuel only to a cold generator. Before refueling, turn off the generator and allow it to cool.

Connect securely. If you don’t have a transfer switch yet, you can use the generator’s outlets. It is preferable to connect the devices directly to the generator. If you must use an extension cord, it should be sturdy and designed for outdoor use. It must be rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the loads of the connected devices. Make sure the cord is not cut and the plug has all three prongs.

Install a transfer switch. A transfer switch connects the generator to the circuit board and allows you to power hardwired devices. Most transfer switches also help prevent overload by displaying power usage levels.

Do not use the generator to “feed” power into an electrical system. Trying to feed electrical wiring through “backfeeding” – where you plug the generator into a wall outlet – is dangerous. You could injure utility workers and neighbors served by the same transformer. Backfeeding bypasses integrated circuit protection devices, so you could damage your electronics or start an electrical fire.

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