The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) reminds residents that summer is in full swing, meaning severe weather, including hurricanes, can strike and knock out electric power. While portable generators benefit consumers during power outages, they can be extremely hazardous and even life-threatening, if not used properly.
“We encourage Florida residents impacted by severe weather to be careful when using generators,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “Preparedness is the key; plan where and how you’ll use your generator and then do a test run. By planning ahead, you will keep your families safe and healthy during hurricane season, which runs through November 30.”
Here are more tips from the PSC on how to safely use a portable generator.
Tips on how to operate a generator:
• Never use a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide (CO) build-up in your home.
• When using a portable generator, remember that you can’t smell or see CO. Even if you can’t smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO.
• If you feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. The CO from generators can quickly kill you.
• Locate your unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
• Install battery-operated CO alarms, or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home.
Tips to eliminate electrical hazards:
• Keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. For best results, operate it on a dry surface, under an open, canopy-like structure.
• Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords designed for outdoor use.
• Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding,” a dangerous code violation.
Tips to prevent fires:
• Never store generator fuel in your home.
• Do not store flammable liquids near a fuel-burning appliance.
• Before refueling your generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
For more information on generator safety, please visit the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners website, http://www.naruc.org/resources.cfm?p=561.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the PSC’s website, http://www.floridapsc.com/Publications/Consumer/Brochure/HurricaneHouse.pdf.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.