Generator Safety and Proper Use

Improper use of portable generators can cause serious injury to residents, repair crews, and damage to homes and appliances. Prior to Hurricane season, inspect your generator and give it a test run. This is also a good time to check your extension cords to make sure they are in good condition.

Always Follow Your Generators Instructions and Remember These Safety Tips:

  • Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring without a Generlink or other approved interconnect device. Power from a generator connected to a home’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines, potentially injuring or killing utility crew working to restore service.
    • Plug appliances directly into the generator’s outlet.
    • Use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use to keep the generator safely outdoors.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for grounding the generator.
  • Always thoroughly read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe operation of your generator.
  • Don’t leave a running generator unattended; turn it off at night and when away from home.
  • Never refuel a hot generator or one that is running; hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  • Overloading the generator can result in damage to appliances it is powering.
  • You don’t need to run everything at the same time. Rotating larger items allows the use of a smaller generator, which costs less to buy and is easier to move.
  • Refrigerators may only need to run a few hours a day to preserve food. Using a refrigerator thermometer, aim to maintain 40 degrees in the refrigerator compartment and 0 degrees in the freezer.
  • Be a good neighbor. If the power is out, your neighbors are probably sleeping with their windows open. Consider that the sound of your generator may not be music to everyone’s ears.

Important Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety Tips:

  • Remember, gasoline-powered generators produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Never run generators inside, in a garage, or any enclosed or partially enclosed areas. You cannot see or smell CO and portable generators can produce high levels of the toxic gas very quickly.
  • Keep generators away from all open windows – including neighbors’ windows – so deadly exhaust (CO) does not enter their home or business.
  • To be safe, buy a battery-operated carbon-monoxide alarm when you buy your generator. It works like a smoke alarm, sounding an alert if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
  • For 24-hour poisoning advice, call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. In case of severe CO poisoning, call 911 immediately.
  • According to the Florida Health Department, portable generator usage was the leading cause of CO exposure in 97.5 percent of cases during Hurricane Irma. There were 529 cases identified-including 15 deaths-of CO poisoning related to Hurricane Irma in 2017 and 19 cases related to Hurricane Michael in 2018. Learn more about Carbon monoxide (CO) at

FKEC Portable Generator Connection

Florida Keys Electric Cooperative offers a meter collar device that allows co-op members to connect a portable generator to their home or business to make portable generator use safe and easy. The GenerLink, available for purchase and installed by a co-op professional, acts as a transfer switch automatically disconnecting your meter from the power grid, preventing dangerous “back feed,” which can potentially damage equipment and/or harm you and our utility crews. Click here to learn more.