Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton: Use Generators with Great Care

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (at podium) during a press conference held at a Manhasset-Lakeville fire station on the need for increased safety when handling generators following a recent house fire where a generator was in use
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (at podium) during a press conference held at a Manhasset-Lakeville fire station on the need for increased safety when handling generators following a recent house fire where a generator was in use

Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, many homeowners purchased generators to be prepared for future power outages. After nearly 400,000 Long Island homes lost power during Tropical Storm Isasis, these generators were put to good use for several days.

While generators play an important role in preventing food from spoiling, operating electric-powered medical equipment and maintaining air conditioning during summer storms, certain potentially life-saving safety precautions must be followed to protect users from carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution and fires.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an extremely active hurricane season,” Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove) said. “If we happen to lose power during another storm this fall and you have a generator, protect yourself and your family by ensuring you are using it safely.”

To protect yourself, follow these guidelines:

Generators should never be used indoors or in an enclosed space. Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused when gas fumes are present with inadequate ventilation.  Consumer Reports recommends placing a generator at least 20 feet from your house and ensuring the engine exhaust is directed away from windows and doors. Symptoms of carbon monoxide include nausea, dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

Keep the unit dry. To avoid electrocution when using a generator, ensure it is always on a dry surface under an open canopy-type of cover.  Do not use it in rainy or otherwise wet conditions unless it is completely covered. Never touch a generator with wet hands.

Store fuel safely. To prevent fires, always store fuel in a container as recommended in the generator’s instruction manual. Re-fuel the generator only when it is turned off and completely cool. All fuel containers should be stored outside, at a safe distance from your home. Contact your local fire department for additional fire-safety guidance.

Additional safety tips include:
Ensure the entire electric cord has no cuts or tears and the plug has all three prongs and a grounding pin;

Protect yourself, your neighbors and utility workers from back-feeding – never plug a generator into standard wall outlets; and

Prevent overheating by only using the power that is needed and alternating generator use between appliances.

Please feel free to contact Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton about this or any other topic in District 11 at 516-571-6211 or dderiggiwhitton@nassaucountyny.gov

-Submitted by the Office of Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton

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