Electric Backup Systems
Some people prepare for the possibility of a power outage by purchasing an electric generator as a standby system. A generator may help power lights and other necessary appliances around the home or business until power is restored. However, generators can be expensive to run and maintain, noisy, and, most importantly, may pose a serious safety hazard if not used and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Both permanent and portable generators require users to be aware of, and to use, proper installation instructions. Because you are responsible for any injuries or damage caused from an improperly installed or operated generator, smart safety practices will protect you, your neighbors and Liberty Utilities work crews.
So stay safe and follow these generator safety tips:
Permanent Standby Generator Safety
- Only a qualified professional, such as a licensed electrical contractor, should install a permanent standby generator.
- Consider all power lines to be potentially energized even if your power is out; only a qualified Liberty Utilities lineman can determine if they are de-energized. Generators that are not correctly installed can back feed the power lines and pose a threat of electrical shock to the line workers or people that come in contact with downed power lines.
- A double-pole, double-throw transfer switch is the recommended device to keep a generator from back-feeding into Liberty Utilities' system. This switch also prevents Liberty Utilities from re-energizing your building wiring while your generator is running, protecting your generator, wiring, appliances, and equipment from damage once power is restored.
- Follow all applicable building codes in your area, and have your wiring inspected by the city or county building department.
- If you already have a permanent standby generator installed, but you're not sure it's installed correctly, call your local city or county building department to have it inspected, or call a licensed electrical contractor for assistance.
- Call and notify your local Liberty Utilities office once your backup system is installed. This allows work crews to be on the alert for possible generators in service if they are working on a power outage in your neighborhood. A power company employee may ask to check your transfer switch for safety prior to performing their work.
Portable Generators Safety
Portable generators are designed to be temporarily connected to selected appliances or lights. These generators should never be connected directly to your building's wiring system.
- Before you use your generator, thoroughly read and understand all of the manufacturer's instructions. If you have any questions concerning the safe operation of the generator, call the dealer before operating the unit.
- Be sure the total electric load on your generator won't exceed the manufacturer's rating.
- Always locate your generator where its exhaust will vent safely. Generator exhaust can be deadly.
- Prioritize your needs. Use the lowest wattage light bulbs that provide a safe level of light and reserve power for appliances. The smaller the load on the generator, the more fuel saved.
- Never plug a generator into a household outlet or other home wiring. Use an extension cord to plug lights and appliances directly into the generator, but always be sure to inspect the cord for damage before using.
- Be sure the extension cord is the proper wire size to carry the electric load essential for your needs during a power outage. Overloading an extension cord may lead it to overheat and pose a fire hazard.
- Keep all extension cords out of the way to avoid tripping hazards. Never run cords under rugs or carpeting where a damaged spot could go unnoticed. Heat can build up in such areas and pose a fire hazard.