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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Portable Generator Safety

Portable Generator Safety Tips 

Portable generators are convenient and helpful when power is needed, but they can also be hazardous. The largest dangers to avoid when using them are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire. The United States Comsumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers these recommendations to prevent loss resulting from improper use of portable generators. 


Avoid Carbon Monoxide Hazards 

  • Always use generators outdoors, at least 15 feet away from buildings. Never use them inside homes, garages, or other enclosed areas.  
  • Limit your exposure to the [carbon monoxide] (CO) that is released from the generator’s exhaust. If you begin to feel sick, get fresh air right away or call 911.  


Avoid Electrical Hazards 

  • Operate the generator on a dry surface where water cannot reach it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator. 
  • Plug appliances into the generator using a heavy-duty, outdoor extension cord. Make sure the entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all 3 prongs.  
  • NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This is known as backfeeding which can cause electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer. 


Avoid Fire Hazards  

  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite. 
  • Always store fuel outside of living areas, away from fuel-burning systems. Fuel should be properly labeled in non-glass containers.