Hurricane preparedness: How to stay safe while using a generator

Hurricane preparedness: How to stay safe while using a generator
Gen-Set generator being worked on. (Source: kplc)

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Anytime a powerful storm moves through, electricity is always at risk of going out.

Vanessa Hardy, with Gen-Set Enterprises, said the number of backup generators they sell upticks every hurricane season.

However, she said people don’t always know and practice generator safety.

“When it comes to backup power sources, a lot of people feel like portables are kind of simple in a sense, like anybody can really operate them," Hardy said. “We definitely encourage more of a professional to show you hope to operate them, and walk over the safety portions of the generator.”

Generator-related deaths have been making headlines for years, even in Calcasieu Parish.

But many of those deaths are preventable.

Hardy said a few important things to note: Don’t work on generators in the rain, make sure you use extension cords made for the outdoors and never use a generator in an enclosed space.

“When you do have that generator operating, nothing (should) be within five feet, but it needs to be twenty-five feet from a working window, or a door for the carbon monoxide safety issue," Hardy said.

She said regular maintenance and checkups for generators are important, even if they’re not regularly being used.

All making sure that your generator is working and safe, so it’s ready when you need it.

You can find more hurricane safety tips here.

Here are some more tips for generator safety from the Energy Education Council:

  • Do not plug a generator into the wall to avoid back feed. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
  • Turn the generator on before plugging appliances to it. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage; prioritize your needs.
  • Be sure the generator is turned off and cool before fueling it.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.

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