How to Avoid The Dangers of Portable Generator Use

 

Portable Generator Safety
Portable generators are great when there is a power outage, but there are many things you need to keep in consideration when operating it. Safety is the number one priority and things can go wrong if isn’t used correctly, this sheet contains tips and safety advice to keep in mind when operating your generator.

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An exhaust pipe built for a customers backup generator to help ventilate its enclosure

Tips On Safely Using Your Portable Generator
• Turn off the generator and let it cool down before refueling. Never add fuel to a hot or running generator
• Always check the total wattage rating of the appliances being powered by the generator to avoid it from overloading
• Do not use in the rain or wet conditions
• Make sure your hands are dry before operating the generator
• Perform a dry run of your generator to make sure you are familiar of how you will operate it during a power outage.
• Never connect the generator directly to your home’s wiring system unless you have had licensed electrician install special facilities, including a ‘change over switch
• Keep on top of your generator maintenance for peak performance and safety
• Plug appliances directly into the generator. Or use a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated in watts or amps at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Check that the entire cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially an earthing pin.
• NEVER use a generator in enclosed spaces.

Electric and Fire Hazards
Generators can pose the risk of shock and electrocution. Because generators MUST be operated outdoors you have to be aware of the environment and weather conditions to prevent any accidents. Keep the generator on a dry surface where no moisture can get to it.
Use heavy duty extension cords that are designed for outdoor use with the same wattage as the appliances that are connected to it. Check that these cords have no cuts or tears and have all four prongs.

Connecting your Generator
Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as back feeding. This is extremely dangerous and is 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

Fuel Storage
Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Do not store it near fuel burning appliances, if the fuel is spilled or not sealed properly invisible vapors from the fuel can travel along the ground and can be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.

 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
ALWAYS remember to keep your generator a safe distance away from the house, with exhaust directed away from any door, windows or vents. Generator exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide which can be dangerous or even fatal if inhaled.
Just remember you cannot see, smell or taste CO. It is a good idea to install a battery operated CO alarm or a plug in CO alarm so that if any CO gas from the generator comes into the house the alarm will warn you.
Symptoms of low-level CO poisoning can be similar to those of common illnesses, such as a cold, flu or food poisoning. These include:
• Headache
• Nausea
• Fainting
• Dizziness
• Weakness
• Shortness of breath
If you experience any of these symptoms call 000 immediately!

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ONLY use outside and downwind, far away from windows, doors and vents.

Always remember with great power comes great responsibility. Educate everyone in the household how to correctly use the portable generator whenever there is a power outage emergency to save any accidents.