Backup generators can supply you with emergency power when you need it. You can keep needed, even critical, devices or systems running even throughout a power failure or disaster. It’s still important to know safety tips and information when installing or running a backup power generator. Before getting or operating a generator, know the safety information that can keep you and your family fine in a tough situation.
Installing a Generator
Before installing a backup generator, make sure to follow all guidelines and instructions from the manufacturer. This is a time to read the manual and all the equipment’s documents. Take the time to read and know an operating handbook, area building codes or instructions about where in place the unit and how to safely install it with your property’s electrical connections.
Not following the safety instructions might lead to multiple and dangerous problems such as electrocution or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Never hook a generator straight into a home’s electrical system without a proper isolation device. This is a switch which will disconnect the power line from running into your home whenever the generator is running, and vice versa. This is needed for stationary generators and portable generators. A certified, expert electrician should install an isolation switch.
Operating a Generator
Generators create and put out carbon monoxide gas. They exhaust CO at a level which can be dangerous, even fatal, if breathed in. Follow these instructions regarding running a generator and having the right protection from CO in your house.
- Read and follow all manual instructions about the generator before operating it.
- Place the generator outside and the instructed distance away from windows, doors and vents.
- Place the generator so the exhaust is put out away from windows, doors and vents.
- Never run a generator is an enclosed or partially enclosed space.
- Install CO detectors, with alarms and with alarms on. You can’t smell, taste or see carbon monoxide gas.
Hazards to Know When Running a Generator
Generators can be a risk of electrocution and shock. It is more of a risk in wet conditions. A generator has to be used outside, so knowing how to handle the device in all weather is important. It’s up to you to be safe and follow all instructions correctly.
Important electrical safety
- Keep and operate the generator on a dry surface. Do not let water puddle or drain under a generator.
- Make sure your hands are dry before touching a generator.
- If using a generator in wet weather or wet conditions, protect the generator in the way the owner’s manual instructs you to. This is to prevent electrocution or shock. Even in wet weather, do not run a generator inside as it is still a carbon monoxide danger.
- Do not backfeed a generator. Do not plug a generator into a wall outlet to try and operate the generator. This is a very high risk of electrocution or fire and damage to a home electric system.
Connecting appliances, devices safely
- Use proper, heavy-duty extension cords which are approved for outdoor use.
- Do not exceed the total wattage of use on any one extension cord.
- Use extension cords which let the generator remain a safe distance from doors, windows or other home openings.
- Only use cords and plugs which are in perfect, safe condition.
- Make sure cords are not smashed, kinked, broken or frayed. Follow all cord instructions as far as safety, length and usage.
Safety with fuel for generators
- Before refueling a generator, turn it off and let it completely cool for as long as it takes, at least two minutes, before removing the fuel cap. Gas spilled on anything still hot could ignite. Never refuel a running generator.
- Do not store fuel inside. Gas, propane or any other flammable, combustible, hazardous product should be stored outside of all living areas. It should be kept in safe, labeled containers. Do not store fuel close to any fuel-using appliance or device, for example, a furnace or water heater in a garage.
Be Safe with Carbon Monoxide
Using a backup generator means there could be a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and death if you ignore safety and instructions. You can’s see, smell or taste CO gas. This makes it more important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Symptoms of low-level CO poisoning are already serious. They can seem comparable to a typical illness like flu, cold or food poisoning. Symptoms are headache, nausea, fainting, dizzy feeling, trouble or shortness breathing and weakness. These symptoms can happen very fast.
If you or a family member experience any of these signs or symptoms, get outside to fresh air immediately. Call 911 for a medical emergency.
For high levels of carbon monoxide gas, a person can lose consciousness very fast, before being able to escape or call for help. Do not try to turn off the generator before getting outside, away from the affected area, and being able to breathe fresh air normally. Entering an indoor or enclosed area with CO gas and a generator still running could put you or someone else at more risk of poisoning.
Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.