Powering safely during an outage
Article was added on Wednesday, May 15, 2013
One of the great things about the modern American
electric grid is that power almost always flows when we need it.
Given our dependence on electricity, it's understandable why
portable generators are popular when the power goes out and stays
out for a while. When the power does go out, it can be a particular
problem for folks like tobacco farmers with crops in the process of
curing in the barns.
Though standby generators can be very effective, they can cause
more harm than good if not used properly on the farm or in the
home. In honor of Electrical Safety Month, recognized each May, I
want to give you a few safety tips to protect yourself and our
linemen who are working to restore your power.
First, never, ever plug a portable generator directly into one
of your home's outlets-unless you have had a licensed electrician
install a "transfer switch" in your home. If you don't have a
transfer switch, power provided by the generator can "backfeed"
along power lines, which can electrocute a lineman working on those
In addition, portable generators create carbon monoxide, the
odorless, colorless gas that can quickly become deadly if the
generator isn't exhausted outside. Attached garages with an open
door don't count-the carbon monoxide can still seep indoors and
poison inhabitants. Generators must go outside in a dry area, which
might mean you'll need to rig a canopy to protect it from
precipitation at a safe distance from your home's windows, doors,
and vents. How far is a safe distance? Even 15 feet can be too
Other things to keep in mind: Plug appliances directly into the
generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords, but
don't overload it. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for
maximum load. Shut off the generator before refueling, or a fire
could start-and it's a good idea to have a fully charged fire
extinguisher nearby, just in case.
Safety is a top priority at Santee Electric Cooperative, for our
employees and members alike. For more tips on how to stay safe
during a power outage, visit SafetyAtHome.com or
Floyd L. Keels
President and Chief Executive Officer
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