Insurance and Finance

Generator Safety Tips

By Lisa Martin 12.17.14

With severe weather responsible for power outages across the state, Texans often turn to portable generators to keep their households humming. Though undeniably convenient, portable generators also have the potential to cause serious injury and even death, and should always be handled with extreme caution and care.

“Portable generators can be enormously important to anyone who relies on electronics at home in a health situation,” says Travis Askew, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager in Granbury. “But you always need to be aware of ventilation when you’re using them. And refueling improperly can cause serious problems too.”

As Lauren Backstrom, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association puts it: “Many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards.”

Indeed, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, some 84 portable generator-related deaths occurred in 2011 alone.

The following tips from the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Fire Protection Association can help keep you safe as you use this appliance to shed some light on your piece of the world:

  • NEVER use a portable generator indoors, including in a garage or barn.
  • If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away.
  • Never connect a portable generator directly to your home’s wiring or to a vehicle.
  • Don’t overload a generator; each unit comes with a specific rating explaining just how much it can power.
  • Keep a safe distance from the generator while it’s in use; it may grow exceedingly hot.
  • Only use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated power cord to the generator.
  • Refuel the machine as carefully as you would a car; don’t spill!
  • Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can.


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