Electric Generator Safety

Follow These Guidelines to Make Sure That Your Generator Is Working Safely

Some customers prepare for the possibility of power outages by buying an electric generator as a standby system to keep lights and appliances running until service is restored.

A generator may be able to help save food in your refrigerator or freezer during a prolonged outage, let you keep your home office running, or power other essential equipment. Generators can also pose serious safety hazards to you and to others, so please follow all safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.

The law requires that customers with a permanently installed or portable generator do not connect it to another power source, such as Holmes-Wayne Electric Cooperative's power lines. If you own and operate a generator, you are responsible for making sure that electricity from your unit cannot "back feed," or flow into Holmes-Wayne power lines. For safety's sake, be sure to use your generator correctly. If you do not, you risk damaging your property and endangering your life and the lives of Holmes-Wayne's line workers who may be working on power lines some distance from your home.

A generator can be very useful during a power outage, but remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and proper operation. To protect yourself and your family, or your business, remember to follow these rules:

  • Have a licensed electrician install stationary or stand-by emergency generators. Call an electrician to repair a generator; never attempt to repair it yourself.
  • NEVER operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, including homes, garages and basements. Generators very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Operate your generator outside. Never operate it inside a building or garage.
  • Keep the generator dry. To protect it from moisture, operate on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure. Also, remember to "exercise" your generator weekly so it will be ready to go when you need it.
  • Do not overload the generator. Your generator should be 20% larger than the total electric load you plan to connect and power up. Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated in watts or amps at least equal to the sum of the connected loads.
  • Never replenish fuel in a generator while it is running. Make sure fuel for your generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers and away from fuel-burning appliances. And before refueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Never connect generators to your utility service through receptacles, outlets, breakers, fuses or meter boxes. Connecting a generator directly to your household wiring can be very hazardous since this can back feed along the power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. It is an absolute necessity that your generator, if it is connected to your home's wiring through the circuit breaker or fuse box, be connected with a "double-throw" transfer switch. This is not just a good idea or suggestion - IT IS THE LAW.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by your generator before shutting it down.
  • Plug appliances directly into an emergency or portable generator. This is the safest way to use a generator. We don’t recommend connection of a generator directly to a breaker panel, fuse box or meter box.
  • Obey all local, state and national electrical and fire codes.
  • Store gasoline in approved fuel containers and out of children’s reach.
  • Keep children away from generators.
  • Have a fully charged, properly rated fire extinguisher (i.e., rated for electrical and gas fires) ready at all times.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

If an electric generator system is improperly installed or operated, they can be deadly. People die needlessly every year in accidents that involve electric generators.