NewsCovering Louisiana


Local and state agencies provide tips on safe generator use

Portable Generator
Posted at 8:59 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 09:59:05-04

Local and state agencies are providing tips on how to safely operate generators during and after a storm.

As residents prepare for Tropical Storm Ida, the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM) is encouraging all families to keep safety in mind when utilizing portable generators.

“You often hear the phrase ‘Get A Game Plan’ when we’re talking about preparing for tropical weather systems threatening our state, but that game plan has got to include best practices for safe generator use,” said State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning.

Generators produce carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without warning.

The SFM says that it's imperative to have a carbon monoxide detector for your home, especially if you plan on using a generator.

The following generator safety tips are simple, but effective in saving lives:

  • Do not place generators inside of any structure including garages, carports and sheds
  • Instead, place the generator at least 20 feet away from your home, down-wind away from open doors, windows and vents
  • Before refueling, turn the generator off and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes
  • Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet
  • Instead, use a heavy-duty, outdoor extension cord to plug appliances into generators
  • Do not use in rain or wet conditions
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Have a carbon monoxide monitor for your home

Lafayette Utilities System says that improperly used power generators can be a hazard to the public and to lineman working on the power lines.

Backfeeding occurs when a generator (whether permanent or portable) is plugged into a home’s wiring or directly in to a circuit breaker panel and generated electricity is pushed back into the power lines coming in to the home. A utility transformer can step up the backfeed to thousands of volts, re-energizing “downed” power lines and becoming an electrocution hazard to LUS linemen and technicians working on repairs farther down the line.

To be safe, LUS recommended residents hire a qualified electrician to install a manual transfer switch to isolate the home’s electrical system. The manual transfer switch will prevent the generator from pushing electricity out into the utility lines as well as protect the generator once power is restored in to the line by LUS.

Gas, diesel, propane and natural gas generators produce carbon monoxide that can build up quickly if the generator is not in a well-ventilated area.

LUS says that carbon monoxide claims hundreds of lives a year and makes thousands more ill. They recommend generators be used outside and more than 20 feet away from home, doors and windows.

When properly used, generators can supply safe power during emergency situations.

To report a power outage, please call LUS at (337) 291-9200.

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