Generator safety tips

BALTIMORE - MEMA is working around the clock to keep Marylanders safe as Hurricane Sandy approaches.  Deputy Bruce Boych from the State Fire Marshall's Office gave several tips to help you if you've purchased a new generator for the storm.

He said to follow the instructions on the generator and place it away from the home and garage so it can properly vent itself.

"If it is too close to any openings to the home that carbon monoxide could make its way into the home and create a dangerous atmosphere," he said.

Here are other tips to stay safe while operating your generator:

. Powering Up Your Generator

  • Check fuel level.
  • If you must add fuel, be sure generator is cooled down.
  • Do not over fill.
  • Check oil level.
  • Check filter.
  • Check voltage selector to make sure it matches the type of application you are connecting to (CHOOSE BETWEEN '120-VOLTS AND 120-VOLT/240').
  • Move generator outside to well-ventilated area.
  • Place on a firm, level surface.
  • Connect a heavy duty, outdoor-rated power cord to generated, or connect appliances directly to generator to generator.
  • Turn generator's circuit breaker off.
  • Turn power switch on.
  • Pull cord.
  • Let generator warm up before turning circuit breaker back on.


Some generators operate on unleaded gasoline. Others use diesel fuel. Five gallons of gas will power a 5,600 watt generator for about eight hours. One gallon of gas will power a 3,000 watt generator for about 3 1/2 hours.

Additional supplies

You will also need multi-gallon, vented containers for storing gasoline (fill before storm comes), engine oil, an outdoors-rated extension cord and a carbon-monoxide detector.

Caring for your generator

  • Never over fill gas.
  • Don't use stale or contaminated gas.
  • Avoid getting dirt or water in the fuel tank.
  • Turn fuel valve off when transporting or storing generator. This keeps fuel from diluting engine oil and damaging engine.
  • Run generator at least once a month. This lubricates the engine, recharges the battery and lets fresh gas through the carburetor.
  • When storing a generator for more than two months, drain fuel and add fuel conditioner to top it off, following directions on the label.
  • Change oil regularly, according to your model's manual.
  • Change filter regularly. according to your model's manual.

Safety Tips

The risks (if you don't do it right): carbon-monoxide poisoning, electrocution, fire and explosion.

  • Never use wet hands to operate the generator. Never let water come in contact with the generator.
  • Never run your generator in a garage because the carbon-moxide exhaust is toxic. Find a well-ventilated space with some cover, but be sure the generator isn't positioned outside an open window. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector. Always turn the engine off before refueling and let the generator cool.
  • Don't spill fuel. It can ignite.
  • Store fuel and generator in a ventilated area and away from natural gas water heaters. Vapors can escape from closed cans and tanks, then travel to the pilot light and ignite.
  • Never feed power from a portable generator into a wall outlet. This can kill linemen working to restore power. It also can damage your generator.
  • Don't use power cords that are frayed. This can cause a fire. Be sure all prongs are intact and that the cord is outdoor-rated. The cord's wattage or amps must not be smaller than the sum of the connected appliance loads.
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