As winter nears, operate generators safely
Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative strives to provide you with reliable, uninterrupted service every day, but sometimes Mother Nature creates unavoidable power outages. When the power goes out, a portable generator can be a lifesaver. However, generators that are improperly installed or operated can become life-threatening. BDEC recommends following these precautions to avoid dangerous situations:
AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARDS:
Generators exhaust carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly.
- Always use generators outdoors, at least 25 feet away from your home’s doors, windows and vents.
- NEVER use generators indoors or inside enclosed spaces, even with ventilation. Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- Even outside, make sure a generator has at least four feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
AVOID FIRE HAZARDS:
- Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ingnite.
AVOID ELECTRICAL HAZARDS:
- Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface. Do not use it in rain or wet conditions. If needed, protect a generator with an open-sided canopy with plenty of clearance on all sides. Never manipulate a generator’s electrical components if you are wet or standing in water.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord. Check the wattage use of each appliance plugged in and make sure the total does not exceed the cord’s wattage rating. Make sure the entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
- Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
- Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.
- Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
- Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Never cut corners when it comes to safety.
Connecting the generator to your home's circuits or wiring must be done by a qualified, licensed electrician who will install a double-throw transfer switch to prevent backfeeding, which could electrocute lineworkers making repairs.