12 Generator Safety Tips You Must Follow

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The most important safety tips for using a generator involve putting it in the right location, keeping it dry, and following the other user manual guidelines.

Discover the specifics of the safety tips so you can use your machine without putting you, your house, and your family in danger.

Generator safety tips overview

Make sure you implement these generator safety tips to protect yourself from harm and get the most out of your machine.

Generator safety tips checklist:

  1. Follow the directions in your generator manual
  2. Put your generator away from the house
  3. Keep your generator dry
  4. Operate your generator with dry hands
  5. Let a portable generator cool down before refueling
  6. Put your generator fuel far enough
  7. Use a generator transfer switch when powering a home
  8. Stay within the wattage capacities of the generator
  9. Use solid extension cords
  10. Keep your generator away from easily flammable things
  11. Ground your generator when necessary
  12. Operate your generator on a level surface

1. Follow the directions in your generator manual

On top of the more general generator safety tips, you want to follow the guidelines for your specific machine.

For example, the recommended oil type and oil change intervals can vary from generator to generator.

These specific generator safety precautions are also important if you want to avoid voiding your warranty.

2. Put your generator away from the house

Portable generators produce carbon monoxide while converting fuel to electricity.

You have to put your generator away from the house since carbon monoxide is a deadly gas.

Exactly where to place a generator outside depends on weather conditions and what the brand recommends.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 feet (4.6 meters) may not be far enough.

So farther in the direction of 20 feet (6.1 meters is generally recommended.

You do not want to run your generator near open doors or windows either.

Installing CO sensors in your house to play it safe is typically smart since the potential negative consequences are so grave.

3. Keep your generator dry

Your generator can not get wet if you want to avoid electrocution risks or worse.

To get backup power in rainy conditions you can consider running your generator with a tent, special cover, or special shed.

You do need to know windy storm weather conditions can just be too much for these generator cover options.

Additionally, other generator safety tips like providing enough ventilation are still important too.

4. Operate your generator with dry hands

Operating your generator with wet hands involves electrocution safety risks you want to avoid.

So you still need to keep your hands dry one way or another. Covering your generator is not enough.

5. Let a portable generator cool down before refueling

Before refueling a portable generator you want to let it cool down.

The heat of a generator can make the gasoline, diesel, or propane combust uncontrollably.

This involves big safety risks for you, your generator, and whatever else around it.

6. Put your generator fuel far enough

You need to put your generator fuel, whatever it is, far enough away from the machine.

Similar to the previous safety tip, the heat of the generator could make this fuel source explode if you don’t take this precaution.

7. Use a generator transfer switch when powering a home

Connecting your home generator to your house requires extra safety precautions.

Installing a generator transfer switch is one of the most important ones that applies to both standby and portable models.

A transfer switch is basically a system that makes it so the electricity from the generator does not go into the outside power grid.

If you don’t do this, this electricity could harm utility workers.

8. Stay within the wattage capacities of the generator

You need to avoid overloading a generator by staying under its wattage capacities.

By overloading a generator you risk damaging the machine, causing a fire, and causing an explosion.

Especially portable generators are not always as strong as people expect.

Look at the peak watts and running watts your generator offers and the wattage needs of your household appliances.

9. Use solid extension cords

You need to use your generator with extension cords that are stick enough, outdoor-friendly, and not frayed.

This generator safety tip will help you avoid the fire and electrocution hazards involved with suboptimal extension cords.

Ask a professional or customer support when in doubt about what extension cord is right for you.

10. Keep your generator away from easily flammable things

The heat from a generator can cause the things around it to combust. For this reason, you want to avoid placing it on dry grass and similar easily flammable things.

Keep this safety guideline in mind when building a generator shed too.

11. Ground your generator when necessary

Grounding your generator can help you avoid or reduce electrocution risks.

While it can be smart to take this precaution, it is also worth noting that not all generator brands say you need to do this.

At the same time, you still want to check your generator manual since not grounding your generator could void the warranty.

12. Operate your generator on a level surface

Generators are made to operate on level surfaces. By tilting it sideways you risk messing with things like the fuel and oil flow.

In turn, this can damage your generator, involves safety risks for you, your family, and your house, and can simply make the machine function suboptimally.

Generator safety tips checklist pdf

Generator Safety Tips Checklist - Generator Decision

The generator safety tips above are also available in a print-friendly checklist pdf below.

This can help you keep the guidelines close. Even when you are offline.

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.