Portable Generator Safety


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.

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 or any enclosed area.
  • Only operate portable generators outdoors.
  • 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.


Prevent electrical fires & injuries

Serious injuries or fire can result when a home generator is installed incorrectly.  Generators installed without properly isolating the circuits can feed back electricity to the main power lines and create “live” wires and possibly electrocute anyone coming in contact with them.

  • 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
  • Never plug a portable generator into a regular household electrical outlet. 
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator.
  • 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.

Prevent fires

Improper fuel handling, improperly installed or overheated generators are fire hazards.

  • Do not store fuel in the home. 
  • Fuels should be stored in properly labelled 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 refuelling.
  • Do not overload the generator.



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