Home Generator Safety

Though the generators may be a convenient way to keep items running during a power outage, caution must be used when installing and operating!

Avoid deadly mistakes with portable generators

  • Always operate your generator outside. Since it is gas powered, place it in a well-ventilated area away from doors, windows, and your garage. Otherwise, deadly, odorless carbon monoxide can be drawn into your house and poison your family.
  • Don’t get shocked! Use only an outdoor-rated, grounded extension cord — one with a GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter) is best. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for grounding the generator, too.
  • Never “back feed.” Some people try to “doctor” an extension cord to plug a generator into a regular household outlet, imagining this will power the whole house. This is extremely dangerous! Connecting a generator with a regular outlet can not only ruin your home’s wiring and start a fire, it can also back feed electricity into the utility system and energize a line thought to be without power. An unsuspecting HG&E lineman could be seriously injured or killed while working on a line. Only connect individual appliances to the receptacle outlet of the generator, following the instructions in your owner’s manual.
  • Install a transfer switch. The safest and best way to prevent portable generator back-feed problems is to install a transfer switch. A transfer switch permits the home’s wiring system to be easily and cleanly disconnected from HG&E’s system and allows you to control the flow of electricity to those circuits you need most such as a furnace fan or a refrigerator. Transfer switches are costly and require installation by a licensed electrician, however.
  • Gas-powered generators can get very hot during operation. Use extreme caution to avoid burns. Also, let the engine cool before you refuel.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Don’t overload your generator. Read and follow wattage guidelines in your owner’s manual.

Special considerations for permanent auxiliary generators

Permanently installed auxiliary generators must meet electric codes and have a transfer switch to prevent dangerous back-feed of electricity into power lines. Contact a licensed electrician. Also, please notify HG&E if you have a permanent generator or are considering installing one as your gas meter may need to be upgraded (a nominal fee may be required).

Contact Info

99 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Tel: (413) 536-9300
Toll-free: (877) 742-5443