When a power outage occurs, many people turn to a portable generator for help. The safety of you, our members, and our employees is a top priority at Central Electric, especially during dangerous times. When storms hit our area, we rush to your aid as soon as weather conditions allow our lineworkers to travel and make repairs safely.
Our line crews take necessary precautions before they work on downed power lines. First, they verify a circuit has been de-energized, and that proper switches are opened and tagged to isolate the circuit from the system. We place grounds on the circuit to make sure the line cannot be energized while work’s being done. But even after these measures, our workers’ lives remain in your hands.
Your cooperative is proud of our outstanding safety record, but sometimes, no matter how many steps we take to keep everyone safe, the very people we are there to help unknowingly put our lineworker’s lives, and their own, in danger. Portable generators, widely used when power lines are down, can prove fatal to lineworkers and your neighbors when used improperly.
Please use the following safety guidelines when using a portable generator:
- Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. Have a licensed electrician install the equipment necessary to safely connect emergency generators to your home.
- Place the generator in a well-ventilated area where exhaust fumes will not enter your home. Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits carbon monoxide. You should operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to your home.
- Always plug appliances directly into generators. Connecting the generator to your home’s circuits or wiring must be done by a qualified, licensed electrician who will install a transfer switch to prevent backfeeding.
- Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage.
- 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.
- Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure.
- Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never fuel a generator while it is operating.
- Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Never cut corners when it comes to safety.
- Remember, when venturing outside after a severe storm, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Assume that any dangling wires you encounter are electrical, and treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric utility.
We encourage you to protect the well-being and safety of your family during outages, and safeguard those who come to your aid during emergency situations. When we work together for safety and the good of our communities, we all benefit.