Sunday, August 28, 2016

Safely Operating a Portable Generator

If you own a portable generator, compliance with equipment operating procedures is critical to the safety and well-being of your family. Non-compliance with safety regulations and operating guidelines could result in the carbon monoxide poisoning of loved ones and extensive fire damage to your home. 

Employees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the generator safety tips below so that they’re knowledgeable and are well prepared for hurricane season. 

Always operate a generator in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions. 

To avoid being electrocuted, use heavy duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate to plug individual appliances into your generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating allows. 

Never connect a generator to a wall outlet or to the electrical system in your home since that can cause damage to your equipment and can be a life-threatening danger to your family, neighbors, and repair crews. Always operate your generator outdoors on a level surface in a well-ventilated, dry area away from air intakes to your home. Your generator needs an unlimited supply of fresh air for proper cooling during operation so ensure that it has a minimum of three to four feet of spacing on all sides, including the top. An open door or window will allow dangerous exhaust fumes to enter your home. Since combustion engines create carbon monoxide, which can be lethal, good ventilation is critical.

Be sure to have adequate fuel for your generator and manage consumption by running for only a few hours at a time. Never add fuel to your generator when it is running, and always store additional fuel in approved gasoline containers.

If connecting a generator into your home wiring is necessary on a temporary basis, a transfer switch must be installed by a licensed electrician. A transfer switch permits the transfer of the load from the utility company power source that normally supplies power over to the portable generator. A transfer switch will isolate the circuits supplied by the generator. This transfer switch will prevent “backfeeding,” a term that refers to the inadvertent energizing of circuits in both systems. 

Backfeeding most commonly occurs when a generator is connected directly to the electric panel or circuit in a home. Feeding power into the utility system during an outage will energize the transformer. This could pose a serious threat to the power line and to the service crews who are unknowingly working with an energized line as they attempt to restore power to your home and your neighborhood.  

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