Usage and Safety 
generator safety

While useful, generators can be dangerous if not used properly. Review these safety tips before using your generator.

  • Read, understand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Operate outdoors in a clean, dry area.  Never operate a generator indoors or near a building’s air intake.   Without adequate ventilation, carbon-dioxide, carbon-monoxide, and other dangerous gases can build up and become deadly.
  • Generator must be properly grounded.
  • After losing power, turn off main breaker or pull main fuse block.
  • Generators that are directly connected to existing wiring systems must use double-pole, double-throw (DPDT) transfer switch to prevent backfeed.
  • All electrical connections must comply with the National Electric Code.
  • Do not overload generator with too many appliances.  Get the right-sized generator for your needs.
  • Use properly sized extension cords in good condition.
  • Keep an approved, fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • You may be liable for damage or injury to people and property that may result from an improperly installed or operated emergency generator.

Reduce Fire Hazards

  • Fuel vapors may explode if they encounter a spark or flame, so don't store gasoline or other generator fuels in your home or near the generator.
  • Don't refuel the generator while it's running.
  • Don't smoke, use open flames, or operate electrical switches while handling fuel.
  • Don't store fuel in any container that isn't specifically designed for that purpose.

Minimize Electrocution Risks

Generators should be kept dry and properly grounded.

Don't touch a generator if you are wet or are standing in water or on damp ground.

Vital household circuits should be protected by Ground Fault Interrupters, devices built into wall outlets that trip out if current surges. If your home doesn't already have GFIs, an electrical contractor can install them at moderate cost.

If you see a utility repair crew working nearby during a power outage, it would be helpful if you alert them to the fact that you are running a generator. They can double-check for everyone's safety, and may be able to advise you when you'll be able to switch your generator off and resume using the CMP grid.


Be sure to inspect and maintain your generator regularly. Keeping fresh gas in the tank and running the generator for a while periodically helps ensure it will be ready when you need it.