When severe weather causes outages, a generator can provide a temporary power solution. Plan ahead. When used without proper care, generators can put you and others in danger.
Never plug a generator into a wall outlet or directly into your home’s wiring. Contact a licensed electrician to install a properly rated power transfer switch. This protects you and your appliances, and protects co-op workers from shock while restoring power.
Never, ever use a generator indoors—even with windows open—or in an enclosed area, including an attached garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or any other enclosed or partially enclosed area—even if it’s ventilated.
Locate the generator where fumes cannot filter into your home through windows, doors, vents, or other openings—even 15 feet is too close. Carbon monoxide, which is odorless and invisible, can build up to lethal levels in a matter of minutes. If you must use a generator, install a carbon monoxide detector and test batteries monthly.
Make sure the generator stays dry during operation, and never touch electrical equipment with wet hands. Water and electrical devices don’t mix. To prevent shocks or electrocution, the generator must be kept far away from water or precipitation.
Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for proper operation. Professionally and permanently installed standby generators are actually a safer and more reliable option than portable generators because they are mounted a safe distance from your home and run directly from a fuel source.
—American Red Cross, National Fire Protection Assoc., Safe Electricity, NRECA