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HOW TO RESOURCE: GENERATOR SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS



In this section, you will find information on the following:

GENERAL SAFETY
CARBON MONOXIDE
HANDLING FUEL
AVOIDING ENGINE BURNS
AVOIDING ELECTRIC SHOCK
CONSIDER GROUNDING GENERATOR
NEVER CONNECT GENERATOR DIRECTLY TO ELECTRIC OUTLET
GENERATOR OR EXTENSION CORDS
HANDLING BATTERIES


GENERAL SAFETY:

Here are a few general safety related guidelines:

A)Generators should be used only in accordance with instructions of manufacturer.

Operator should read operating instructions or manual before starting or using generator. Owners should never remove warning stickers or safety devices from power equipment.

B)Since portable generators are often used in bad weather, or at night when visibility is restricted, understanding how and where to use them in advance is critical.

C)There should be plenty of ventilation on all sides of running generator.

D)It is best to operate generators in open areas, where they will be protected from falling debris like leaves and twigs, and from blowing rain, sleet, or snow.

E)Always power on a portable generator before connecting load to it(this is true whether appliances are to be connected directly or via an extension cord).

F)When activating connected appliances, begin with highest watt ones first.

REMEMBER: that during normal use, connected appliances should not consume above eighty percent of maximum running watts of generator. This reduces chance of damage or overheating.

TIP: you can usually find running watts on data plate attached to back or underside of an appliance. If data plate cannot be located, a wattage meter which is inserted between the appliance and a wall outlet is good way to determine exact wattage demands.

G)Portable generators use 12 to 18 gallons of gasoline or diesel per day; this means that an extended blackout will require substantial fuel reserves.

TIP: having a few extra quarts of oil, air and fuel filters, and spark plugs is also advisable.

H)Portable or home generators should be started and run for five minutes every three months to insure they remain ready for emergency use.

I)A generator should be serviced annually even if it has not been used. Unless owner is qualified, it is best to engage service or repair specialist.

J)Generator fuel tanks should be kept full(topped off) during down time. This prevents condensation from accumulating inside tank.

K)Keep small children away from running generators. Even if generator is being operated in a safe and well ventilated area, engine parts will become burning hot during use.


CARBON MONOXIDE:

WARNING: be aware that a portable generator produces the same amount of carbon monoxide as 6 idling cars! Generator exhaust is also heavy and therefore difficult to expunge from an infected area.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, follow these guidelines:

A)Never operate generator in an enclosed area where exhaust fumes can accumulate. Fumes can result in unconsciousness or death in mere minutes!

REMEMBER: using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES. Never use generator inside a home or garage, EVEN IF doors and windows are open.

B)During operation, generator should be located as far as possible from residences and buildings.

C)Generator should never be operated near windows, screen doors, vents, or air conditioning ducts.

D)Always locate generator so that air currents direct fumes away from residences and buildings.

E)There should be plenty of ventilation on all sides of running generator.


HANDLING FUEL:

WARNING: since fuel is highly flammable, it is best to handle and use it with care.

REMEMBER: that storing substantial amounts of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels burned by generators can be hazardous if done carelessly. We recommend storing fuel in a container meeting American National Standards Institute(ANSI) requirements, or state requirements as applicable(California, for example, has its own requirements known as CARB).

TIP: try using a stabilizer(such as STA BIL) in fuel which will be stored for emergency purposes!

TIP: we recommend that emergency fuel supplies be used and replaced annually. Try using gasoline for emergencies in your other power equipment: chain saws and lawn mowers, ATVs or motorcycles, and replenishing with fresh fuel as supply is depleted.

Here are a few additional safety rules to follow:

A)Always turn off engine before refueling generator.

B)Never handle or pour fuel while smoking, or in the proximity of open flame.

C)When fueling, take care not to spill gasoline on generator engine or muffler; engine heat can ignite spilled fuel.

D)If possible, permit engine to cool before refueling.

E)Try storing alongside your emergency generator a funnel for pouring and a rag to clean up spills. It is also a good idea to have flashlight and fire extinguisher within reach!

F)All fuels are poisonous. If fuel is swallowed, seek immediate medical attention.

REMEMBER: that if fuel gets into your eyes, it is also best to seek medical attention!

If fuel comes into contact with skin, wash affected area thoroughly with soap and water.

G)If you notice yourself being inundated by fuel vapors, becoming woozy or lightheaded, retreat to fresh air location at once.

H)Always keep generator in an upright position when it is being transported. This reduces the chance of fuel and oil leaks.

I)Generator fuel tanks should be kept full(topped off) during down time. This prevents condensation from accumulating inside tank.


AVOIDING ENGINE BURNS:

WARNING: generator parts can become hot enough during routine operation to cause serious burns. With this in mind, try following these simple guidelines:

A)Keep small children away from running generators. Even if generator is being operated in a safe and well ventilated area, engine parts will become burning hot during use.

B)Do not leave generator unattended where children might come into contact with it.

C)Do not keep flammable materials in the vicinity of generator engine or exhaust.

D)Operate generator with at least 3 feet of clearance on all sides to avoid excessive heat buildup.

TIP: following this rule will also help insure that generator motor does not overheat and shut down during operation!

E)Never operate generator when it is beneath a dust cover, or closed in by debris.

TIP: if debris collects on warm generator engine, try removing with compressed air rather than by hand.


AVOIDING ELECTRIC SHOCK:

WARNING: the electricity produced by generators, if used incorrectly, can create severe electric shock, even death. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind about electricity:

A)Do not operate a generator in rainy or snowy conditions; electricity and water never mix!

B)Never operate a generator while standing in water, or while wearing wet clothing.

C)Never touch or handle a running generator with wet hands.


CONSIDER GROUNDING GENERATOR:

For ultimate safety, consider grounding your generator by following these guidelines:

A)For every 1 amp of outlet capacity, figure on needing a grounding wire with diameter of .12 mm(.005 inches). Here are several examples of the necessary calculations:

For a 10 amp outlet: 10 amps x .12 mm = 1.2 mm diameter(of grounding wire needed).

For a 20 amp outlet: 20 amps x .12 mm = 2.4 mm diameter(of grounding wire).

For a 50 amp outlet: 50 amps x .12 mm = 6.0 mm diameter(of grounding wire).

TIP: try using cold water spigot on outside of house or building as a reliable grounding point!


NEVER CONNECT GENERATOR DIRECTLY TO ELECTRIC OUTLET:

WARNING: never connect a generator directly into the electric outlet of a home or building.

This practice can result in a dangerous condition known as back feed, where generator power seeps into external lines, posing an electrocution risk to utility workers, etc.

A)Unless a transfer switch(also referred to as manual transfer switch) is used, appliances should ONLY be connected to a portable generator directly, or via a generator ready extension cord(often called GENERATOR CORDS on packaging).

WHAT IS A TRANSFER SWITCH?

A transfer switch(which should be installed by a licensed electrician familiar with area building codes) acts as bridge between a generator and the main circuit breaker panel of a building or residence.

Transfer switch allows generator power to safely enter home electrical system. The National Electrical Code(700 6) provides that transfer equipment must be designed and installed to prevent accidental interconnection of normal and emergency power sources(the problem known as back feed).

TIP: a DOUBLE POLE or DOUBLE THROW transfer switch will not engage until outside power has been disconnected, a great way to insure that safety rules are observed!

BE AWARE: that some local government agencies require that a permit be obtained prior to installation of transfer equipment. A licensed electrician will know when a permit is needed, and how to obtain one.

REMEMBER: that because utility workers are so vulnerable when working on downed lines, some municipalities have criminalized the reckless use of portable and home generators. Violators can face harsh fines, even incarceration, if convicted. Improper or reckless use of home generators can also void homeowners insurance in the event of property damage or personal injury.


GENERATOR OR EXTENSION CORDS:

Keep the following in mind when dealing with generator or extension cords:

A)Since portable generators will be placed outdoors, be sure extension cords are manufacturer rated for outdoor use.

B)Be sure any generator cords carry the Underwriters Laboratories endorsement for maximum wattage produced by your generator model.

C)Avoid routing extension cords in a manner that would create tripping hazards.

D)Do not cover extension cords with carpets or padding which can cause heat buildup and perhaps fire.

E)Keep in mind that if an extension cord is hot to the touch, it has been overloaded and must be either replaced or its load reduced.

F)Particular care must be taken when using an extension cord in wet conditions.

G)Periodically inspect all extension cords for frays, cuts, cracks, exposed wiring, and plug damage; replace as necessary.

REMEMBER: that an undersized or frayed extension cord should never be used with a portable generator.


HANDLING BATTERIES:

WARNING: here are a few pointers for handling batteries:

A)Remember that battery electrolyte is poisonous; keep children a safe distance away anytime you are working on a battery!

B)Because battery electrolyte contains sulfuric acid, it can cause severe burns. Avoid contact with skin, clothing, and eyes.

If contamination of skin occurs, wash affected area liberally with water, and seek medical attention.

C)For safety, always wear eye protection when working on electrolyte batteries. If battery acid comes into contact with eyes, seek immediate help at a nearby emergency room!

D)Battery acid is explosive. Keep sparks, open flame, cigarettes, and other burning objects away from any battery you are charging, or working on.

E)If possible, perform battery maintenance or charging in an open or well ventilated area.

TIP: to keep batteries from being overcharged, it is best to check electrolyte specific gravity on an hourly basis. For information on how to get an accurate reading, and other helpful battery care tips, visit http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/hweb4.pdf



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T-Rex Generators distributes products from many different standby and portable generator manufacturers at substantially discounted prices. These represented companies include: Asco automatic transfer switches, Briggs & Stratton generators, Winco generators, Generac Generators, GenTran transfer switches, Reliance Controls Transfer Switches, and Zenith automatic transfer switches. T-Rex also carries Honda powered generators which have the same time-tested Honda engines as the substantially more expensive Honda generator brand units.