Take extra caution when using a portable generator. They do provide a good source of power during an extended outage, but if they are installed or used improperly, they can be deadly. Follow these tips:
- Make sure the generator is properly grounded.
- Keep the generator dry.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator.
- Be sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load you need and are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
- Do not overload the generator.
- Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. They can produce high levels of carbon dioxide very quickly.
- Use a GFCI to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install an are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.
Downed Power Lines
Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury and death. The following tips can help you stay safe around downed power lines:
- If you see a downed line, move away from the line and anything touching it. The human body is a ready conductor of electricity.
- The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity always wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone – and it could do that through your body!
- If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim…call 911 instead.
- Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and then electrocute you.
- Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
- If you are in your car and it is in contact with the downed line, stay in your car. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
- If you must leave your car because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with the live car and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the car to the earth. Shuffle away from the car.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.
Lightning strikes the United States as many as 20 million times each year. Because lightning traditionally causes more deaths than tornadoes or hurricanes and occurs when outdoor activity reaches a peak, those who work outdoors should be aware of lightning safety guidelines.
You should never remain outdoors during a lightning storm. Because lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles, blue skies are not a sign of safety. If you hear thunder, take cover.
- If outdoors, go inside. Look for a shelter equipped with a lightening protection system.
- Go to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest object. Get down if you are in an exposed area.
- Stay away from trees.
- Avoid metal. Do not hold metal items, including bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, etc. Avoid clotheslines, poles and fences.
- If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Crouch down and cover your ears.
- Stay away form water. This includes pools, lakes, puddles and anything damp, such as wet poles or grass.
- Don’t stand close to other people. Spread out.
- Once indoors, stay away from windows and doors.
- Do not use corded telephones except for emergencies.
- Unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives and avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords during storms.
- Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets. Do not take baths and showers during electrical storms.
Information Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International