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PAGE 6 | AUGUST 2014


Generator safety: Lives are on the line W


hen a storm knocks out power for extended periods of time, many of those


affected turned to backup generators to help keep food safe, lights on, and safety and medical equipment operating. Several million generators are now in homes and small businesses across the nation.


However, only a small percentage of generators are hooked up or used correctly. SafeElectricity.org urges consumers to understand proper generator safety steps.


“Generators can be a lifesaver for some and can improve the quality of life after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake,” explains Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “However, it’s critical that proper safety precautions be taken to prevent accidents that could affect you, a family member, neighbor, or lineworker.”


Generators can be temporarily or permanently installed. A permanent generator is wired into a house by a qualified electrician using a transfer switch. Tis protects the owner, his neighbors, and repair crews from electricity backfeeding onto power lines. Backfeeding can seriously injure anyone near those lines, especially co-op crews working to restore power. A temporary generator fired by gasoline or diesel fuel should not be attached to a circuit breaker, fuse, or outlet.


Te improper use of a standby generator can lead to injury or death. Always notify TCEC when installing a permanent generator and always install a double throw switch.


SafeElectricity urges members to follow these tips when using a generator:


„ Notify TCEC you are installing a generator so it can be noted on your account for the safety of lineworkers.


„ Follow all manufacturer instructions to properly ground the generator.


PORTABLE GENERATORS ARE HELPFUL DURING AN EXTENDED POWER OUTAGE, BUT THEY CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS IF NOT USED PROPERLY. NOTIFY TCEC IF YOU INSTALL A GENERATOR. SOURCE: SAFEELECTRICITY.ORG.


„ Standby generators should have a transfer safety switch installed by a professional. Portable generators should never be plugged directly into a home outlet or electrical system—use an extension cord to plug appliances into an outlet on the generator.


„ Never operate a generator in a confined area, such as a garage. Generators produce gases, including deadly carbon monoxide. Tey require proper ventilation.


„ When venturing outside after a severe storm, whether to check a generator or for any other reason, stay away from downed power lines. Assume that any dangling wires you encounter are electrical, and treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized.


„ Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet


conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface. Always ensure that your hands are dry before touching the generator.


„ When you refuel the generator, make sure the engine is cool to prevent a fire, should the tank overflow.


„ Nothing should be plugged into the generator when you turn it on. Tis prevents a surge from damaging your generator and appliances.


„ Keep children and pets away from the generator to avoid burns.


For more information on the use of generators and safety after a storm, go to


SafeElectricity.org or tcec.coop. „ Sources: NRECA and Safe Electricity


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