During the past few active hurricane seasons, the sales of generators have increased tremendously, along with generator-related accidents, which are preventable, if simple safety measures are followed. Many generator-related accident reports from the most recent hurricanes were due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using a portable generator, especially after a hurricane:
Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions that came with the generator! Sounds simple enough, but many people don't. Keep the unit out outside, away from doors, windows and any vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Do not put the generator in your garage, even if it is left open. It should be located in a dry area protected from the weather under a canopy, or open shed. Carbon monoxide is often undetectable, because it cannot be seen or smelled, which is why extreme caution is advised when deciding placement of your generator. If you start to feel dizzy or sick while using a generator, get to fresh air right away and seek medical help as soon as possible. It's a good idea to install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors/alarms. As with your regular smoke detectors, you should test the battery frequently.
Use the proper outdoor-rated power cords to attach appliances to the generator and make certain that the cords are in good condition. Connect only essential appliances to the generator. Don't overload the generator and verify that it is properly grounded. Never connect the generator directly to your home wiring. This could cause the generator to backfeed on to the power lines and possibly electrocute repair crews working on lines away from your home.
Turn off all appliances connected to your generator, before you shut it down. Never refuel the generator while it is running - wait until it has cooled down.
Especially after a storm, make sure there are no debris which could ignite around the generator, and that water has not pooled anywhere around the generator, or the lines connected to it.
Keep children away from the generator at all times.
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