Electrical Safety and Generators
When power lines are down, residents can restore electricity to their homes or other structures by using another power source such as a portable generator. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.
Effects of Backfeed
The problem of backfeed is a potential risk to line workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths. The following safety guidelines can reduce this risk.
When using gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the "OFF" position prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generator, and help protect utility line workers, repair workers, or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse, the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of utility or other workers.
Other Generator Hazards
Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used outside in well-ventilated areas.