Portable generators, widely used when power lines are down, can prove fatal to homeowners, utility workers and even your neighbors 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 line seems dead.
‘Backfeeding’ happens when a portable generator is connected directly to the home’s wiring without having a functional transfer switch. Without a transfer switch, a portable generator’s electricity can be sent back into the power grid from your house. This will energize the utility’s power lines on the street and poses an electrocution hazard for those who may not know that the voltage is present on the shared lines.
The general public – as well as first responders – should assume that all power lines are energized and the risk of electrocution is high if proper measures are not observed.
“Even though power may be out in your immediate area, improperly connected portable generators are capable of ‘backfeeding’ power lines thought to be inactive,” said Commissioner Constable. “In addition, as the utility’s power is restored, your portable generator and house wiring may be severely damaged from improper usage.”
Acting Division of Fire Safety Director William Kramer, Jr., also warns that although portable generators can be very helpful to during outages, “it is imperative that the public follow safety guidelines when using one.”
Portable Generator Safety Tips:
The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in New Jersey. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.
For more information, log on to http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/ on the DCA website.
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