Hurricane Laura had a message: “The U.S. toll from the Category 4 hurricane rose to 16 deaths Saturday, with more than half of those killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators.” (Source)

Another headline: “Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators poses new threat in areas hit by Hurricane Laura.” (Left, Houston Chronicle)

ECC caught those headlines and wanted to get the word out about safety.

As consumers become more energy-aware many add home generators in case of an outage. The industry expects double digit growth. (Source) Portable home generators are not just like flipping a light switch. There are significant safety precautions necessary to install and use any home generator.

“Carbon monoxide can kill you in as little as 5 minutes if the levels are high enough, according to safety guidelines from the National Institutes of Health. And data from the CPSC shows that from 2005 to 2017 more than 900 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while using portable generators,” said Consumer Reports.

“As the only safe place to operate a portable generator, taking it outside is absolutely mandatory to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide. But there’s even more you can do. By educating yourself about all carbon monoxide risks, you’ll be better prepared to protect your family from this colorless, odorless threat,” said Generac, a generator maker.

Home generators are installed to keep a home powered-up. As SC Living (left) the electric coop magazine noted, “Safely installing a whole-house backup generator is not a job for a do-it-yourselfer, and running any generator safely requires attention to important details, so no one gets hurt. ‘I would have a qualified electrician install it,’ says Peggy Dantzler, vice president of loss control and training for The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. ‘A professional can size the generator for your house and what you need to run during a storm. That can really benefit a homeowner.’” (Check that story from SC Living)

Home generators take real skill and knowledge to install and use. Find experts to get it done properly.

This OSHA document is an introduction. It notes that, “Portable generators are internal combustion engines used to generate electricity. They are useful when temporary or remote power is needed, and are commonly used during cleanup and recovery efforts following disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.” There are “…specific hazards inherent with the use of generators.” The OSHA document mentions shock hazards, electrocution, emissions, hook-up issues, placement of the generator, water hazards, and a lot more.

Home generator safety is not a new thing to the Carolinas. Here’s a headline: Hurricane Florence: Out of power? Beware: Generators can kill, too. That from the Raleigh News and Observer a few years ago. Interesting info.

Additional information is on your utility company websites, some examples.

Duke Energy

Dominion Energy (right)

Santee Cooper

Lumbee River Electric Membership Coop (NC)

Little River Electric Cooperative (SC)

When it comes to home generators, get expert help and education before buying, installing, and using them. There are serious safety issues to note.

We note that as ECC writes this on Sunday, August 30, the Tampa Bay Times today headlines: The Atlantic has 3 tropical systems. Which will strengthen first?


Additional reading: The Generac website has more about safety. The illustration at left is from that website.

Feature image is Hurricane Laura, NOAA satellite.