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Public Health » Public Health Preparedness
Storm Damage July 2019

Generator Tips
The portable electric generator should be the correct size, with a slightly larger output than the power level needed to operate all the equipment that is connected to it. The generator and connected equipment can be damaged if the inappropriately sized generator is used.

Do not connect a portable generator directly to a building's wiring or plug the generator into an electrical outlet. This will cause a "backfeed" condition. The power from the generator will flow through the building wiring and onto the utility distribution system. This is extremely dangerous to utility line mechanics when repairing the downed power lines as they are unaware of any "live" wires. In addition, when the power company restores power, it can feed directly into the portable generator causing severe damage to the generator and any appliances that are plugged into the generator. In order to prevent a "backfeed" condition or equipment damage when the utility company restores power, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to isolate the building wiring from the utility distribution system.

Use the properly sized and rated power cords to connect equipment to the portable generator. Use heavy duty, outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords that are in good operating condition in these situations.

Never operate a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. The generator uses an internal combustion engine to operate and emits carbon monoxide gas that must be vented properly in a well-ventilated outdoor area.

Never refuel an operating or hot generator. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator.

Keep children away from all portable generators at all times.

Portable generators are a great convenience, but like any piece of equipment, present many safety hazards. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturers' instructions completely to ensure that your generator is being maintained and operated in a safe and proper manner.