Cooperative Review - June 2018
Vol69-02 February 2019

Practice generator safety

Southern Maryland faced its first winter storm of 2019 in mid-January. While there were limited outages with that storm, many families prepare for the possibility of power outages by purchasing portable generators. Here are some things to consider if you plan to use a generator.

How do I use my generator safely?

The portable generator, while in operation, should be located outside in an unheated, covered, well-ventilated area. Do NOT operate the generator in a house, basement, attached garage, or any enclosed area. Exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, invisible, poisonous gas.

Portable generators have traditionally been used to run plug-in appliances like refrigerators, freezers and lights. Any appliance that is not permanently wired into the home’s electrical system can be operated with polarized extension cords from the generator. Generally, #10 and #12 wire size extension cords are needed for 1,200- to 1,800-watt loads. Be careful! Overloading extension cords may cause a fire.

A double-throw transfer switch must be used for 240-volt appliances, as well as for hard-wired appliances like furnaces or water pumps. A polarized outdoor-rated extension cord connects the generator to a fused outlet that feeds the transfer switch. The switch prevents your generator from feeding electricity back into SMECO’s lines and injuring or possibly killing linemen working to restore your power. The transfer switch must be installed by a licensed electrician and inspected by an electrical inspector to prevent house fires and ensure that the generator is not overloaded.

How can I get more information?

For more information about selecting and sizing a portable generator, contact your local generator dealer.