Fire department warns of generator danger

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A Fire Department official warned the public today to exercise caution when using portable electric generators during power outages, which can occur during the sort of hot weather the Southland has been having.

“If not properly installed and operated, a portable generator can become a deadly device that kills via electric shock or carbon monoxide fumes,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. “Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes.”

Residents were urged to hire licensed electricians to install generators and to make sure they meet all local codes.

Connecting a generator directly to household wiring without an appropriate, professionally installed transfer switch can result in the “back feed” of current along power lines, risking the electrocution of anyone contacting them, including utility workers trying to restore power during outages, Humphrey said.

Informing the local utility of the installation of a generator is also recommended and may be legally required in some jurisdictions, he said.

Residents were also warned never to use a generator indoors or in any enclosed or partially enclosed area such as a patio, shed or garage.

Keep the generator away from people and pets and install battery-powered or battery-backed carbon monoxide detectors, Humphrey said.

Humphrey also advised portable generator users to:

– Get fresh air to anyone feeling dizzy, sick or weak while the generator is in use;
— Read the owner’s manual carefully and make sure the device is properly grounded and maintained;
— Store generator fuel remotely, and safely and turn the device off and allow it to cool before refueling;
— Use properly rated, undamaged or worn extension cords with three- prong plugs;
— Use the generator to power only essential equipment and appliances;
— Keep the generator and the hands of anyone touching it dry;
— Use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electrical shock; and
— Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting it down.

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