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Generator Safety: Our Lives are on the Line

Safety is a top priority at Gibson Electric Membership Corporation. When storms hit our area, we rush to your aid as soon as weather conditions allow our lineworkers to travel and make repairs safely.

Our line crews take necessary precautions before they work on downed power lines. First, they verify a circuit has been de-energized, and that proper switches are opened and tagged to isolate the circuit from the grid. We place grounds on the circuit—on either side of the workers—to make sure the line cannot be energized while work is being done. But even after these measures, our workers’ lives remain in your hands.

Portable generators can be a great help when the power is out, but they also can be hazardous to homeowners and Gibson EMC’s lineworkers when used improperly.  A generator connected to a home’s wiring or plugged into a regular household outlet can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with them—even if the lines seem de-energized.  

And Gibson EMC employees are not the only ones in danger when a portable generator is used improperly. Generator owners themselves may be at risk of electrocution, fire injury, property damage, or carbon monoxide poisoning if they do not follow the necessary safety rules. 

     These are some tips to help keep you and others safe:
• Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. Have a licensed electrician install the equipment necessary to safely connect emergency generators to your home.
• Always plug appliances directly into generators. Connecting the generator to your home’s circuits or wiring must be done by a qualified, licensed electrician who will install a transfer switch to prevent backfeeding.
• Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage.
• Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
• Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.
• Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
• Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure.
• Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
• Never fuel a generator while it is operating.
• Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. 

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