December 19, 2012 6:10 am
Despite the many pros to using generators, there are a few common dangers that should be avoided in order to ensure safety while running a generator, including carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electrocution or electrical shock. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Reliance Controls offer the following tips for safe usage and warn against the improper use and installing of portable generators:
• Never use a gasoline-powered generator inside your home or garage. High levels of carbon monoxide are generated quickly and opening doors or windows will not prevent build-up. Always use your generator outdoors and away from the home and open windows. Use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of hazardous gas.
• Store generator fuel safely. Keep it away from living areas and fuel-burning appliances. Properly label your containers as well. Make sure the generator is off and cooled down before attempting to refill it.
• Check the extension cords you plan on using beforehand. Make sure they are rated for the load, free of cuts or worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.
• Be careful not to overload the generator. Only use it when absolutely necessary to power essential appliances.
Another ESFI recommendation is that you do not connect your generator directly into your household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch being installed. A transfer switch is an electrical device that is permanently installed near the service panel in your home. It prevents the utility power and the generator power from powering your household circuits at the same time. A transfer switch also eliminates the possibility of backfeeding, which is when generator power travels back up the utility service line. Backfeeding can result in fires and serious injury or even death to you, utility workers or electricians working on nearby electrical systems.
The National Electrical Code®, which sets national standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks, requires that transfer switches be used with all portable generators supplying alternate power to a home or business.
Published with permission from RISMedia.