Man starting a portable generator

A portable generator can prove extremely helpful during a power outage. However, these lifesaving devices come with their own set of risks, and precautions need to be taken to ensure that they don’t cause a disaster of their own.

Most injuries/deaths related to portable generators are caused by one of the following accidents: carbon monoxide poisoning, shock or electrocution, and fires.

Take the following measures to safeguard yourself and family when using a portable generator:

»  Never use a portable generator indoors.​  It is crucial that your portable generator be used in an open-space, away from your living area. Carbon monoxide can build-up in a confined area within minutes. And, as a colorless, odorless gas, CO can go undetected until it is too late. If you ever start to feel dizzy or sick after using a portable generator, turn the generator off and seek medical attention immediately. Consider purchasing battery-operated CO detectors for your home.

»  Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of your home.  This method is called "backfeeding" and can prove extremely dangerous not only to you and your home, but also to any utility lineman in your area.

»  Keep your generator in a dry place.  Operating your generator in wet conditions can result in shock or electrocution. Consider purchasing a canopy-like structure to protect your portable generator from the rain, and place it on a cement pad away from water.

»  Use the correct electrical cords.  Portable generators are a powerful source of electricity, and if you use the wrong cords to operate these machines, you increase your risk of shock and electrocution. Always use cords provided by the manufacturer or heavy-duty, three-pronged extension cords designed for use in the outdoors.

»  Use caution when refueling your generator.  Turn the machine off and allow it to cool before refueling. Never store the fuel for the generator in your home. All fuels should be stored outside your living area, in safety-containers that are properly labeled and out of reach of children.

»  Use and maintain the generator according to manufacturer's instructions.  A portable generator is, after all, a machine that should be operated properly to ensure safety and efficiency.

For more information and safety tips regarding portable generators, log onto And be sure to review your current homeowners or renters insurance policy with your independent agent to ensure you’re covered in the event of any disaster, whether it’s caused by Mother Nature or machine. 

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