Portable Generator Safety Tips


Portable generators are easy and safe to use when correctly operated.

Here are a few usage tips you should keep in mind.

IMPORTANT: Carbon monoxide is an invisible, poisonous gas. Make sure that there is proper ventilation. Do not operate your portable generator in-doors, in a garage or other enclosed structure or near open windows. If you experience dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing, turn off portable generator, get fresh air and seek medical attention.

  • Wattage - Determine what appliances you will be able to run with the wattage guide.
  • Testing - Perform a dry run of your generator to make sure you are familiar of how you will operate it during a power outage.
  • Flashlight - Keep a flashlight handy to find your way to your generator.
  • Location - Keep your generator conveniently located.
  • Electric Start - If your generator is equipped with electric start, keep the battery charged.
  • Lubrication - Run your generator occasionally to keep the engine well lubricated.
  • Powering Your Generator - Keep an adequate supply of fresh gasoline and extension cords. Use fuel stabilizer if you plan on extended storage.
  • Plugging In - Plug in appliances one at a time being careful not to overload the circuits.
  • Cool After Use - Allow your generator to adequately cool-down before storing.
  • Cover - Use a storage cover to keep the generator free of dirt and debris.

Safety Precautions for Operating Portable Generators

With what seems like an increase of weather related power outages, it’s important to be prepared blackouts. Owning a portable electric generator will help keep appliances like your sump pump or refrigerator on to help protect your valuables, and keep your cell phone and portable electronics powered to keep you connected.

While generators are extremely powerful and helpful, it is absolutely vital that you follow portable generator safety instructions. Briggs and Stratton, North America’s largest supplier of portable generators, has put together this informative video to keep your lights on while staying safe.

What You Need to Know 

1. Always read and follow the equipment operator’s manual before operating.

2. Engine exhaust contains carbon monoxide a poisonous gas that could kill you in minutes. You CANNNOT smell it, see it, or taste it. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you could still be exposed to carbon monoxide gas.

3. Operate the equipment ONLY outside far away from windows, doors and vent to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide gas from accumulating and potentially being drawn towards occupied spaces.

4. Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas.

5. DO NOT run equipment inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds, or other partially-enclosed spaces even if using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

6. Always place equipment downwind and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.

7. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or week while using the portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. See a doctor. You may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Know the Warning Signs 

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those caused by other illnesses such as cold, flu, or food poisoning.

• Headaches 
• Dizziness 
• Nauseated 
• Faint 
• Shortness of Breathe 
• Fatigue 

If you suspect that you are experiencing any of the symptoms to CO poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately.

To Prevent CO Poisoning 

• Never operate a portable generator or any other gas engine-powered tool in or near enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.
• Install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL 2034 safety standard.
• Remember, a CO alarm can provide added protection, but it is no substitute to proper use and upkeep of your generator.