Power Generator Issues and Risks

As of Wednesday morning, more than 177,000 residents of metro-Atlanta and North Georgia are without power according to Georgia Power and Channel 2 Action News. http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/tracking-more-than-100000-power-outages-in-metro/vCQph5/ Our hats off to the crews with Georgia Power and other local utilities working tirelessly to restore power to these Georgia families.

Many of those without power were smart enough to purchase a portable power generator enabling them to stay comfortable and warm in their home. For those of you who have a portable power generator, please make sure to be smart when you use them and follow all of the manufactures' instructions and warnings.

The biggest risk associated with use of a portable power generator is Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 85% of the non-fire CO related deaths were due to power generator use. Just as you cannot run your car in a closed garage, please do not operate a power generator indoors. They can only be operated outside and it is best if they are operated at least 20 feet away from the home. Please do not use in the basement, garage, shed or crawlspace even if there is significant air flow or ventilation in these spaces, i.e. do not operate in a garage even with the garage door open.

The second risk is that of fire due to a gas leak. Before using, inspect the tank and lines for leaks or signs of wear. Take caution not to spill any fuel and thoroughly remove any fuel that is accidentally spilled. Store fuel in a distinctively marked container, away from any combustibles and especially out of the reach of children.

Unfortunately, even proper use of a portable power generator can result in serious injury or death if the unit is defective. Before using, make sure that your portable power generator has not been recalled. You can visit the website for the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.saferproducts.gov for a list of recalled power generators and other consumer products. For instance, Subaru recently had three of its models, SGX3500, SGX5000 and SGX7500, due to an unreasonable risk of fuel tank leaks.