Proper Handling of Portable Generator Ensures Safety
In a power outage, a portable generator may be needed. But extreme care is necessary, if not used properly generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or fire. If you run a portable generator in a power outage, follow these safety guidelines:
- Never operate your generator indoors or in an enclosed space. Only use your generator in a well-ventilated area. Gasoline or diesel powered generators produce carbon monoxide that quickly fills an enclosed area and could cause death. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled. If you feel sick, dizzy or weak while using generator, get fresh air right away. If you feel seriously ill, seek immediate medical attention. Do not delay! Tell medical staff you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. If you became ill indoors, let the fire department determine when it’s safe to re-enter the building.
- Only use properly sized and grounded extension cords.
- Turn off electrical devices before you connect them to a generator or generator-powered circuit.
- Once a generator is running, only then to you connect devices to the generator. Connect each item, one at a time, to ensure that you do not overload the generator. Shut them down again before you switch back to LCUB service. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s technical information.
- Be sure your generator is rated for 240-volt loads as well as 120-volt, if you hook up larger appliances such as ranges, well pumps or dryers.
- Prevent Back Feed! Never connect your generator to your home’s wiring, even if you turn off your main breaker. Back feeding feeds generator-produced electricity back into LCUB’s distribution system and could injure or kill neighbors or utility workers.
- Turn off your generator before adding fuel to it.
- Routinely inspect your generator and all connected equipment to ensure that it is in acceptable operational condition.
- Run your generator periodically so it’s ready when you need it.
Portable generators must be carefully installed to avoid back feed. This occurs when the generator produces electricity that is fed back into your home’s wiring and, potentially, back into the power distribution grid. This can cause deadly injury to LCUB employees or neighbors who are working on downed power lines to restore power during an outage.
Generators should be installed using the “Direct Connect” or “Transfer Switch” methods, as illustrated below:
Correctly installing and following the safety tips above will help you operate your portable generator in a safe manner. While the list contains many useful tips, it should not be considered exhaustive and you should contact a licensed electrician if you need additional assistance with your portable generator.