During a power outage, a generator can seem like a lifesaver, but with improper use, running a generator can be lethal.
Running a generator inside can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that kills more than 500 Americans each year. Never use generators, grills or other gasoline-, charcoal- or propane-burning device inside a home or garage.
Another hazard associated with improper generator use occurs when it is not properly hooked up. Never hook up a generator directly to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. There are several reasons why hooking up a generator to your home’s electrical service is not a wise idea.
Home-use, or non-industrial, generators do not supply enough amperage to supply sufficient power for today’s homes (that is, to run lighting, appliances and other electronic equipment). Unless your home’s power supply was installed with a disconnect to the main power feeding lines, power you put into your home from a generator could backfeed into the main line and cause problems for the electrical utility company, your neighbors, or yourself.
Other generator safety tips include:
- Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using a generator.
- Always use the appropriate sized and type of power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.
- Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.