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 manufacturer’s instructions and contact a qualified electrician or electrical inspector if you have questions.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, 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 your home or other buildings.
  • 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 ESA permit is required for the installation, unless it is done by a licensed electrical contractor . 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 you are using the portable generator to power electrical tools for outdoor use.
  • Keep the generator dry and protected from rain and snow.

 Prevent fire

  • 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 appliances.
  • 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.

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