Generator Safety - Keys Energy Services

Generator Safety - Keys Energy Services
hen stormy weather blows
through, sometimes the power
goes with it. Portable electric generators
offer great benefits when such outages
affect your home, but generators can
Tip: You can not depend on your senses for
protection from carbon monoxide. This deadly
gas is invisible and odorless. When buying a
generator, also buy a battery-operated carbon
monoxide alarm. It works like a smoke alarm,
sounding an alert if carbon monoxide levels
become dangerous.
Safety After
the Storm
also be dangerous; posing serious safety
hazards to you and others.
The primary hazards to avoid when
using generators are carbon monoxide
(CO) poisoning from the engine’s
exhaust, electric shock and fire.
Every year, people die in incidents
related to improper use of portable
generators. Most of the incidents involve
CO poisoning from generators used
Tip: If an appliance has a three-prong plug,
always use a three-prong extension cord.
Tip: 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 operate, and it is easier to move.
Caution: An improperly connected generator
can expose utility work crews and emergency
response personnel
to high voltage backfeed causing serious
injury and death.
indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.
The second most common source of
deaths results from electric shock due
to backfeed. Backfeed occurs when
generators are plugged in or connected to
a home’s internal wiring. Unless certain
precautions are taken (see electric shock
section), generators connected to a home’s
internal wiring will also energize the
utility’s distribution wires throughout
PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended to
serve as a starting point for safe practices and is intended to provide
basic guidelines for generator safety. The information in this safety
resource has been compiled from sources believed to be reliable and
to represent the current opinions on the subject. It is not intended to
be legal, medical or other expert advice or services, and should not
be used in place of consultation with appropriate professionals. The
information provided is intended to be accurate and helpful, but it
should not be considered exhaustive. While every effort is made to
ensure accuracy, we make no representation as to the accuracy of,
and cannot accept any legal responsibility for any errors, omissions,
misstatements or mistakes within the pages.
the neighborhood, presenting a potential
electrocution hazard to utility workers
and other electric customers.
Sources: The American
National Red Cross,
U. S. Fire Administration,
Dominion Storm Center
Protect Your Family
Learn the Proper Use of a
Portable Generator
Electric Shock and
DO NOT connect your generator directly to your
home’s wiring or plug a generator into household
outlets. Connecting a portable electric generator
directly to your household wiring can be deadly
to you and others. This is an extremely dangerous
practice that presents an electrocution risk to
utility workers and neighbors served by the same
utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the
built-in household circuit protection devices.
If you must connect the generator to the house
wiring to power appliances, the only safe way is
to have a licensed electrical contractor install a
transfer switch in accordance with local electrical
codes. Some utilities may also install these switches.
Check with your utility company to see if it can
install an appropriate power transfer switch.
Use only UL-listed, three-wire extension cords
with generators. Be sure the extension cord is
adequate to handle the electrical load. Plug the
appliance into the extension cord first, then plug
the extension cord into the generator’s outlet.
Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Make sure your hands are dry and that you
are standing in a dry place whenever you operate
your generator. Do not use a portable generator in
a flooded area.
To prevent electrical shock, make sure your
generator is properly grounded. Consult your
manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding
Turn off all appliances and equipment powered
by the generator before shutting down your
Fire Hazards
DO NOT store fuel indoors or try to refuel a
portable generator while it’s running. Gasoline
should be stored outside of living areas in properly
labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store
them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural
gas water heater in a garage. If the fuel is spilled or
the container is not sealed properly, vapors from the
fuel can travel along the ground and can be ignited
by the appliance’s pilot light or electric arcs caused
by turning on the lights. Avoid spilling fuel on hot
components. Put out all flames or cigarettes when
handling gasoline. Always have a fully charged,
approved fire extinguisher located near the generator.
Never attempt to refuel a portable generator while
it’s running. Before refueling a portable generator,
turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on
hot engine parts could ignite. Use the type of fuel
recommended in the instructions or on the label on
the generator.
DO NOT overload a generator. DO NOT operate
more appliances and equipment than the output
rating of a portable generator. Overloading your
generator can seriously damage your valuable
appliances and electronics. Prioritize your needs. A
portable electric generator should be used only when
necessary, and only to power essential equipment.
Use the proper power cords. Plug individual
appliances into the generator using heavy-duty,
outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate
for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause
fires or equipment damage. Do not use damaged
extension cords.
Carbon Monoxide
NEVER use a generator indoors or in an
attached garage. Just like your car, a portable
generator emits deadly carbon monoxide (CO).
Opening doors and windows or using fans will
not prevent CO build-up in the home. Be sure to
place a portable generator outdoors, well away
from open windows where exhaust fumes will
not enter the house. Be sure the area is a wellventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the
home, and protected from direct exposure to
rain (preferably under a canopy).
Install battery-operated CO alarms in your
home, according to the manufacturer’s
installation instructions. Test your CO alarms
frequently and replace dead batteries.
Additional Safety Tips
Keep children away from portable electric
generators at all times.
Carefully read and adhere to all instructions in your
portable electric generator’s owner manual.
DO NOT leave a running generator unattended.
Turn it off at night and when away from home.
Avoid getting burned. Many generator parts are
hot enough to burn you during operation.
Be a good neighbor. If the power is out, your
neighbors are probably sleeping with their
windows open. Be conscientious of the noise and
the carbon monoxide.
Get the most from your generator. Save gas by
using appliances only as needed. If no appliances
are running, shut the generator off.
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