Generator Safety

Storms can often create an increased demand for emergency generators. Tornadoes, hurricanes, even the occasional ice storm can also cause major, long-term outage emergencies.

Improperly installing and running a generator can kill you or the line personnel trying to restore power. Improper use can also damage or destroy appliances, cause fire, or cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Transferring your power needs to an emergency generator safely is your responsibility. The biggest concern is proper hookup of the generator. It must be hooked up through a double-throw transfer switch unless you are plugging in individual appliances directly to the generator.

When you’re using your generator to provide power to the whole house, a transfer switch disconnects your wiring system and generator from Wiregrass Electric’s system. This eliminates any chance of the generator feeding power back into the electric lines and injuring or killing a line worker restoring power.

A qualified, licensed electrician should be hired to install the transfer switch in accordance with the National Electrical Code and any local ordinances. The generator should be properly grounded, too. A minimum of 10-gauge wiring must be used. During an outage, pulling the handle down switches the source of the electricity from the co-op’s lines to your generator.

Small generators are usually not powerful enough to run your complete household needs. Overloading can cause damage to the generator and appliances. It can also cause a fire hazard. Undersized extension cords can also overheat. Before purchasing a generator, list all of the appliances and their wattage totals you want to run. Remember starting loads are often greater, but your generator should be sized to handle this load.

A 5,000-watt generator, for example, could run four lights, a furnace fan (only), a refrigerator, and a sump pump. Voltage levels may fluctuate from portable generators, which can cause damage to your electrical appliances. Be sure and start the largest motor or appliance first.

Don’t attempt to speed up the engine for more output. Non-standard voltage and frequency can cause damage. Don’t let a weather disaster turn into a personal disaster. If you need an emergency generator, by all means, purchase one now and have a transfer switch installed before the storm hits.

Wiregrass Electric’s line personnel will always work tirelessly to get your power back on as quickly as possible. It’s a dangerous job even in the best of conditions. By installing a double-throw generator transfer switch you’ll know you’ve protected them and your home. They’ll appreciate your concern for their safety.

Safety Tips

  • Never attempt to wire your building’s electrical system into a generator. Doing so can cause power to “backfeed” through the electric meter and into the electric distribution system. Anyone who comes in contact with an energized wire – whether it’s standing or downed – can be injured or even killed.
  • Install the generator in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Obstructing ventilation can cause overheating and produce carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate in a confined area where animals or people could be exposed.
  • Keep animals and children away from the generator while it is operating. Do not operate the generator in rain, snow, or flooded conditions.
  • Water and electricity don’t mix!
  • Never fill the fuel tank while the engine is running. Gasoline can be ignited by a hot muffler, engine, or an electrical spark. Allow the engine to cool completely before refueling.
  • Store fuel in proper containers.