State Fire Marshal Jonathan Jones is urging fire safety with any use from generators to candles during Hurricane Florence.
"I urge every family to have on hand a basic disaster supply kit," Jones said. "This includes first aid supplies, a battery-operated portable radio, flashlight and extra batteries. During a hurricane, power outages are anticipated, and I want to remind everyone the use of candles and portable generators can pose additional hazards."
- Use a sturdy candle holder on an uncluttered space
- Put candles out before they get too close to the holder
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home
- Never leave a burning candle unattended
- Ensure eyes of the stove are turned off, especially during an outage
- Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home or garage
- Never burn charcoal inside a home or garage
Portable generators are becoming increasingly popular to supply backup power during natural disasters such as hurricanes, but experts say there are a few important safety issues that must be considered.
The main aspect to generator safety is to never use a generator inside a home, garage or near open windows or return vents to a home or building of any kind, according to Chip Humphries of Simpson Hardware in Sumter and other sources. When fuel is used, it produces carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that if inhaled can result in an individual potentially being hospitalized or dead.
Humphries said people often try to use generators in their garage to prevent potential equipment theft but that that's a bad idea.
"Don't ever run a generator in the garage or even up too close under the roof's edges near a house," Humphries said. "If a window is open or you have a vent nearby, that carbon monoxide can come back in the house, and you will never know it. So, ventilation is very key for safety."
As far as electrical use, most people today use heavy-duty extension cords that run from the generator directly to the appliance that they are operating.
Humphries said that is the safest way to use a generator.
A second method for usage involves "hard-wiring" the generator into your home and a "back-feed" process through the house.
Humphries recommended any generator operator contact a licensed electrician first to set up a "back-feed" through the home's electrical system.
Besides location, there are other key aspects to generator safety, according to Popular Mechanics and others. They fall under two areas: fuel and emissions.
- Never fill up the generator's gas tank completely. The manufacturer's instructions will specify how much air space to leave between the gas in the tank and the base of the gas cap. It's generally at least 1 1/2 inches, according to Popular Mechanics. This is to prevent fuel spills because gasoline will expand in the tank when the generator is in use.
- If any gas is spilled onto the generator in the fueling process, wipe it up immediately.
- Before refueling, turn the generator off, allow it to cool down for several minutes, and then refill.
- Wherever the generator is positioned outside the home, the exhaust port on it should point away from the house.
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