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The official voice of West Florida Electric Cooperative:

March 2023

Play it Safe: 10 Do's and Don'ts When Using Portable Generators

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If you're planning to use a portable generator in the event of an outage, West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) reminds you to play it safe. With proper use and maintenance, portable generators can provide great convenience during an outage. When generators are used incorrectly, they can be extremely  hazardous. In a 2022 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that 85 U.S. consumers die every year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by gasoline-powered portable generators. Here are 10 do's and don'ts to keep in mind when using portable generators:
1. DO: Install backup CO alarms.
2. DO: Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times.
3. DO: Position generators at least 25 feet outside the home, away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to enter the home.
4. DO: Ensure your generator is properly grounded. Use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shock injuries.
5. DO: Use three-pronged extension cords that are rated to handle the load of the generator. Inspect extension cords for cuts, frays or other damage before use.
6. DON'T: Operate a generator inside your home or an enclosed (or partially-enclosed) space. Generators produce high levels of CO, which can be deadly.
7. DON'T: Open windows or doors while the generator is running.
8. DON'T: Rely on generators as a full-time source of power. They should only be used temporarily or in emergency situations to power equipment or appliances.
9. DON'T: Overload generators. They should only be used to power essential equipment. Make sure your generator can handle the load of the items you plan to power.
10. DON'T: Connect generators directly into household wiring unless you have an appropriate transfer switch (like Generlink) installed. If a generator is connected to a home's wiring without a transfer switch, power can backfeed along power lines and electrocute utility workers making repairs.

While generators provide convenience during power outages, they can quickly become hazardous - and even deadly - if improperly operated. Before you operate a portable generator, be sure to thoroughly read the owner's manual for important safety information and tips.

If you have questions about the proper use of portable generators, we're here to help. Give us a call at 800-342-7400.