If the power goes out during the chilly months of winter, portable generators can help keep the lights and heat on at your home or business.
However, generators pose serious hazards when not used properly. Before you turn on your emergency generator, remember these important safety tips:
Follow directions – Read any operating and maintenance manuals before using any generator. Insist that anyone else who may operate the unit read and understand the information also.
Ventilate – Adequate ventilation is critical. Exhaust from the generator contains carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that is deadly!
Always run the machine outdoors. To keep the unit out of the winter elements, it is acceptable to use a generator in an open space in a garage, but only if you leave the garage door completely open for ventilation.
Prevent back feed – Never wire a building’s electrical system into a generator unless you have a proper switching setup to isolate your home from the grid. If isolation is not assured, “back feed” through the electric meter and into MEA's power lines will happen when the generator is brought on line. Linemen working to restore your power can come into contact with your power source and be injured or killed.
Turn off main power switch – Even if the electric power is out, always turn off the main power switch before running the generator. Besides the aforementioned hazard to our linemen when power is restored, the grid electricity will likely burn up your generator.
Do not overload – Overloading a generator with too many appliances can cause the equipment to malfunction and put you back in the dark. You also run the risk of starting a fire.
Refer to the unit’s manual for wattage capacity and prioritize your electrical needs.
Use caution with extension cords – Always follow the guidelines specified by the generator manufacturer regarding extension cords and appliances. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty grade, properly grounded and in good condition. Position cords out of the way to prevent tripping hazards, but never cover them with rugs or tape.
Don't refuel while operating – Never attempt to refill a generator’s fuel tank while it is in operation as gasoline is highly flammable. Turn the machine off and give it adequate time to cool down before refuelling.
Caution kids – Keep children away from the generator as well as the gasoline.
MEA's Tariff, Section 9.09, says:
Standby generating facilities shall be installed in accordance with the Association's "Service Assembly Guide" and shall include installation of a double-throw switch on the consumer's side of the kilowatt-hour meter, with capacity in either position equal to the total connected electrical load through the switch. All such installations shall be subject to prior approval of the Association in order to ensure the safety of the Association's personnel.