Having a generator to power your home during an outage can be a lifesaver. But if not used correctly, a generator can end your life or the lives of those restoring your power. Portable generators can be extremely dangerous if not used properly. West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) wants you to become more knowledgeable about electrical safety and these tips will keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock, fire injuries and property damage.
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. Only a qualified professional should install your generator and transfer switch and connect the equipment directly to your home’s wiring. 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.
If using a portable generator, keep these tips in mind:
• 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 into contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. (See above for more information about backfeeding).
• Never plug a generator into a regular household outlet.
• Never operate generators in enclosed spaces. 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.
• Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has all three prongs.
• Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
• Never overload a generator.
• Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting the generator down.
• Keep the generator dry.
• Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
• Never fuel a generator while it is operating.
• Read and adhere to all the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
Visit westflorida.coop for more information to ensure your portable generator is an asset, not an endangerment. When we work together for safety, we all benefit.