MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – As we make our way through hurricane season, it is important to remember how to safely operate a generator.
According to the National Hurricane Center, there have been at least 39 generator-related fatalities since 2017. There were sixteen generator-related deaths after Hurricane Irma in 2017, four after Hurricane Florence in 2018, and in the year 2020, there were four fatalities after Hurricane Hanna, thirteen after Hurricane Laura, and two here locally after Hurricane Sally.
“They are internal combustion engines…They are going to produce carbon monoxide. And it will kill you. So you just have to be very aware of where you are placing it,” says Glen Brannan, Director of Plans and Operations at Mobile County EMA.
It is important to place your generator outside, at least ten to fifteen feet away from your living space and never have it inside the house or in any enclosed space. Even if the windows are open, carbon monoxide (a colorless and odorless gas) will still accumulate. Brannan explains that a good options may be a deck because it has good air movement and is out of the rain. Generators produce heat and electricity, so if they are in the rain, there is a shock possibility.
If you are plugging your generator directly into the circuitry of the house, you will need a transfer switch or flip the main breaker. If you do not, the electricity will make its way back through the lines to the power-lines and could electrocute your neighbor or a power worker. You will also want to be sure you are not hooking up too many appliances to your generator or using lots of extension cords. These could damage your appliances or the generator itself.
For more generator safety information from the American Red Cross or Alabama Power, head to https://rdcrss.org/3izemqS or https://bit.ly/3zccc6D.