When the weather gets rough, a portable generator can be a lifesaver. But, if used improperly, it can prove to be a hazard to you, your home and those working to get your power back on. Electrocution, fire and carbon monoxide poisoning are all potential consequences of improper generator usage. Always play it safe!
Portable electric generators provide a good source of power during electrical outages, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly. WFEC wants you to become more knowledgeable about electrical safety. These tips will help keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock, fire injury and property damage.
First, select a qualified vendor or electrician who can help you determine whether a portable or a permanent generator is best for your home. Unless you’re a licensed electrician, installing a permanent generator is never a DIY project. This type of generator must have a transfer switch that prevents
energy from leaving your generator and going back out onto the utility’s electrical equipment, or “backfeeding.”
Backfeeding can be fatal to a line worker or others near downed power lines. Only a qualified professional should install your generator and transfer switch and connect the equipment directly to your home’s wiring.
If using a portable generator, keep these tips in mind:
• Before using any generator, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs.
• Operate the generator outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation, because it gives off exhaust that contains carbon monoxide. This odorless, poisonous gas can be fatal. That’s why a generator should NEVER
be run in a home or garage.
• Protect the generator and yourself by operating it in a dry, outdoor space. An ideal location is under an open, canopy-like structure on a surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under the generator. Help minimize the risk of electrical shock during moist or wet weather by using a generator only when necessary, and always dry your hands before touching it.
• Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces to monitor levels, as generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. This can be deadly.
• Avoid backfeeding. NEVER plug the generator into the wall. Instead, use a heavy-duty extension cord to plug appliances into your portable generator.
• Turn the generator on before plugging appliances into it. Once the generator is running, avoid overloading it. Prioritize your needs and turn on necessary appliances and lights one at a time.
• Turn the generator off and be sure it’s cool before fueling it.
• Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
• Make sure your generator is properly grounded and never overload it.
• Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
• Keep children and pets away from generators. Components get hot during operation.
We’re connecting you to safety with information that helps protect you and your family. Consider posting these lifesaving guidelines with the generator and in the home.
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