As the weather warms up, many people begin using generators to provide emergency power during outages. Generators are a necessity and are important safety tools. If you’re planning to use a generator during the power outage, it is important to understand how to use one properly. Generators are dangerous if used carelessly because they can produce deadly carbon monoxide.
The following safety tips will help you use generator safely:
- Read the instruction manual before operating a generator.
- Never run a generator inside a home, basement or garage. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and poisonous gas produced by generators when fuel is burned. It can cause serious illness and death if inhaled in large quantities, so use generators only outdoors and at least 20 feet from open doors, windows and vents of your home or other buildings. Generators should also be kept away from pools, spas and other areas where people may swim.
- Operate generators outside well away from doors, windows and vents of the building being supplied with power or any other building or structure that could allow carbon monoxide to enter the structure by natural circulation or through cracks in the building’s foundation or walls. Never use generators in tents, campers or vehicles because carbon monoxide can build up inside these enclosures and cause serious illness or death.
- Use only portable generators rated at least 1,000 watts below the total wattage of items that will be plugged in. For example, if you have a 500-watt microwave, use a generator rated at least 125 watts (500 watts – 375 watts = 125 watts). If the generator you have is capable of delivering more power than the appliance will use, then the generator will work fine. However, if the generator is rated at more than what your appliance needs, it could overheat and cause a fire.
- Do not plug anything into a generator that it was not designed for. The voltage needs to match perfectly or you risk starting a fire or injuring yourself. If you are unsure about what appliances can be connected to your generator, consult with an electrician.
- If you are using your generator to power appliances that use gas (such as a gas dryer), the gas line should be turned off at the tank before the generator is started. If you must use your dryer during an outage, make sure the dryer vent hose is clear of debris, even if you must remove snow or ice from the roof.