Our society is more dependent on electricity than ever before.  What happens when the power doesn’t work?  The batteries in your portable devices might hold for a few hours, but they will eventually fail with no way to recharge them.  When emergencies occur, it is nice to have a backup power source.  However, using an emergency generator to power your home can be dangerous unless proper safety precautions are taken. 

Proper Connection

Improper installation of a generator can lead to injury or property damage.  When using an emergency generator, be sure to disconnect the main power lines at the breaker box.  Otherwise, a situation known as “back feeding” can occur.  Power from the generator can be sent back through the power grid, and the workers trying to restore power can be seriously injured.  Likewise, if power is restored while a generator is still connected to power lines, a surge of electricity can be sent through the generator into your home and cause significant property damage.  It is best to have a certified electrician install a backup generator to ensure it is done correctly. 

Avoid Fumes

Never use a portable generator inside.  Fumes from the generator’s exhaust cause carbon monoxide buildup, leading to serious illness or death.  Keep a running generator outdoors far enough away so that exhaust cannot enter the home through open doors or windows.  Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled so it is essential that you prevent it from accumulating.  A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to potential buildup.  

Keep Dry

Electricity and water can be a deadly combination.  Use your generator on a dry surface under a canopy to prevent it from getting wet.  Also, be sure to dry your hands completely before operating the machine. 

Fuel Safety

Most emergency generators use gasoline.  Follow safety precautions when storing and using the fuel for your machine.  Store gasoline in a dry, well-ventilated area, and only use proper storage containers.  When refueling your generator, it is best to turn it off and let it cool down first.  Spilling gasoline on a hot engine can spark a fire.  Keep a fire extinguisher near the generator in case of fire. 

Proper Load

Do not overload your generator.  Know the output limits of your generator and keep your usage below that limit.  In many cases, the generator is protected from overloading, but the attached devices are not. Using too much power for the machine can cause permanent damage to your electronics and appliances. 

Extension Cords

Like your generator, extension cords are only rated to carry a certain amount of power.  It is best to plug appliances into the generator directly.  If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy-duty, outdoor cord that is rated for the power load required to operate the appliance.  Overloading an extension cord causes it to overheat, which can cause a fire.

An emergency generator can be a wonderful tool in the event of a power outage.  Following proper safety guidelines can keep you and your property safe while you wait for electricity to be restored.   

For more information about emergency power, contact Power Performance Industries or a similar company.