Using a Generator

A generator can help during emergencies, but its safe use requires care and planning.

Gasoline-powered generators produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Always run portable generators outside the house, away from open windows and out of the garage.

You should never connect a generator directly to your home's wiring. Power from a generator connected to a home's wiring will "back feed" into utility lines, potentially severely injuring or killing a neighbor or utility crew working to restore service. Instead, it's recommended to plug appliances directly into the generator's outlet. You should use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use to keep the generator safely outdoors. If the appliance has a three-prong plug, always use a three-prong extension cord. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for grounding the generator.

If you do want to connect a generator to your house wiring, be sure to hire a licensed electrician to make the connection using a UL-listed transfer switch. The transfer switch will safely prevent your generator from back feeding into utility lines, thus avoiding a safety hazard and preventing possible damage when utility power is restored.