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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Safety Tips for Portable Generator…

Prior to hurricane Irene’s arrival as it traveled up the East Coast last weekend, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit where I live in up-state New York, I did a pre-check of the portable generator I own to ensure it was in good working order. Even though I do start and operate the portable generator each month for a monthly operational check for 15-20 minutes, before any pending storm I like that extra start check just to be on the safe side. Checked that the fuel was topped off, oil level was good, “on” switch was on, and with one pull my portable generator started right up. Now with any storm that produce high winds there’s always a chance of power lines getting knocked down leaving many thousands of individual homes & businesses without electricity for a length of time. Storm conditions may and can have an impact on the electrical service in ones community, thus a lot of home owner turn to portable electric generators for a source of temporary electricity for their homes.

For being on the safe side, one needs to be thinking as well as be safe when using portable generators that will be in operation over the time they are providing that all important desired electricity to power the lights, refrigerator, freezers, or furnace during the winter months. There are dangers associated with the use of any gasoline powered equipment and if the portable electric generator is not used properly it can become deadly with the electrical shock potential and those dangerous carbon monoxide fumes that are produced. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable electrical generators are reported to be from CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.

Using a portable generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES! Make sure that the generator being used is in the wide open spaces of the backyard.

So when using a portable generator remember:

  • Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) very quickly, which can be deadly. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional C O poisoning.
  • Never operate your generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space such as a patio or garage, and place it far, far away from any structure housing people or pets. Most of the serious carbon monoxide poisonings have been caused by generator exhaust fumes drifting into doors, windows, vents and crawl spaces.
  • Be certain to install and test carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed areas whenever you operate a portable power generator.
  • Read the owner's manual thoroughly and make sure your generator is prope rly grounded and maintained.
  • Store fuel for your generator safely. Turn the motor off and let it cool before refueling.
  • Keep the generator dry, and make sure extension cords are rated for the load, free of cuts and worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.
  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment or appliances.
  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all time!

Never connect a generator directly to household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed and be sure to notify your utility servicing company, which may be required by state law. It is also encouraged for you to contact a licensed electrician when installing any back-up generator connected to the house electrical circuitry to make sure it meets all local codes.

Remember, portable electric generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns.

Electricity is a powerful tool, and odorless carbon monoxide fumes can quickly lull you to deep and deadly sleep!

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; Th is is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

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