Home generators can be useful during a power outage but they can also be very dangerous if they are not used properly. Always follow all manufacturers' instructions and contact a qualified electrician or electrical inspector if you have questions. To learn more about portable generator safety and certification requirements, visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odourless gas in the engine exhaust. You may not smell the exhaust but could still be exposed to CO.
- Never use a portable generator indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially enclosed area.
- Only operate portable generators outdoors and at a location where the exhaust cannot enter into your home or other buildings through doors or windows.
- If you start to feel dizzy, nausea, a headache or tired while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
- Use a battery operated CO detector at home. This is also advisable for homes that have a natural gas fired forced air heating system.
Prevent electric shock and electrocution
Serious accidents or fire can result when a home generator is improperly connected to an existing house wiring system.
- It is not permissible to connect a home portable or stationary generator directly to a house wiring system without the proper installation of a CSA-approved transfer switch. An electrical permit is required for the installation and the transfer switch and generator must be inspected and approved by the local electrical inspector. For more information on the correct way to connect your generator and to obtain a permit, please call your electrical contractor or the electrical inspector in your area.
- Never plug a portable generator into a regular household electrical outlet. This can also cause back-feeding to our electrical grid, which is a serious electrical danger to your neighbours and our utility workers.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a properly sized CSA-approved 3-pronged extension cord in good condition.
- Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) portable extension cord if using the portable generator to power electrical tools for outdoor use.
- Keep the generator dry and protected from rain and snow.
- Do not store fuel in the home. Fuels should be stored in properly labeled and vented fuel storage containers in a well-ventilated building or storage shed away from living areas. Do not store fuel near the generator or other fuel-burning or heat-producing appliance.
- Shut down the generator and allow it to cool before refueling.
- Do not overload the generator.
For more information on portable generator safety and certification requirements, visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.