Portable Generator Safety Tips
In an emergency, portable electric generators offer lifesaving benefits when outages affect your home or business. They can safely power important electrical equipment such as portable heating units, computers, water pumps, freezers, refrigerators and lighting. However, portable generator use can also be very hazardous. If you plan on using an emergency generator, it’s essential that you take precautions for your safety and the safety of those working to restore power.
The most effective way to avoid portable generator mishaps is to make sure you fully understand the proper operating procedures. Read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines before operating or maintaining your generator – and don’t forget to use common sense.
Follow these tips for safe portable generator use:
- Always read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions before running generator
- Engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.
- Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors.
- Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.
- Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.
- Maintain your generator according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
- Never operate the generator near combustible materials.
- If you have to use extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations.
- Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch.
- Generators produce powerful voltage - Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow.
Source: National Safety Council
Prevention Guidance - Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless gas, which can cause sudden illness and death, is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned. Follow these "Do's and Don'ts" toward exposure prevention:
- Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
- Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
- Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
- Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
- Don't heat your house with a gas oven.
Snow Shoveling Safety Tips
Snow Shoveling: Throw Out Injuries This Winter, Not Your Back
Each winter, snow removal becomes a necessary to-do for millions of Americans. But back strains and other common snow removal injuries can turn this chore into a daunting task.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2012:
- More than 34,200 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries sustained while shoveling snow.
- Nearly 8,000 people were injured using snow blowers.
To help reduce the risk for injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers safety tips and expert advice.
“Snow removal is high stress on the back if done incorrectly and is especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly,” said AAOS spokesperson Steven Morgan, MD. Always proceed with caution when removing snow. If you have a medical condition, consider hiring someone or asking for help from friends, neighbors or family members to remove the snow.”
The AAOS recommends the following safety tips for snow removal:
- Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift it with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
- Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
- Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
- Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care.
- Follow instructions. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.
- Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
- Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
- Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times so you do not trip and fall.
- Keep children away. Never let children operate snow blowers. Keep children 15 years of age and younger away when snow blowers are in use.
Click here for more snow blowing and shoveling safety tips.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Winter Safety Tips – Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls
Walk slowly and carefully on icy or snowy walkways. Take short, deliberate steps in which the mid-foot strikes the ground first, not the heel. The body should always be centered over the feet. This avoids slips at the heel strike phase of gait, the most common slip occurrence. Slowing the walking pace further reduces the likelihood of slipping.
- Avoid areas with poor lighting, when possible.
- Change direction carefully when walking on slippery surfaces.
- Be aware that black ice can look like wet pavement.
- Be especially cautious when new snow may have hidden icy patches beneath it.
- Ensure footwear has good treads and is appropriate for cold or wet weather.
- Be aware that walkways or stairs at any premises could be slippery.
- Avoid walking with your hands in your pockets; keep hands free for balance.
- Where possible, avoid carrying large amounts of materials.
- Carry items in a way that will not throw you off balance or obstruct vision. It is important to see where you are walking.
- Use handrails on stairs, so you can catch yourself if you slip on icy steps.
- Place your full attention on walking. Digging in your pocketbook or backpack or using cell phones or other devices while walking is dangerous.
- Be aware of changes in friction on walking surfaces (for example walking from snow to ice, from curb to road, or from inside to outside).
- Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
- Be particularly careful of slippery conditions in the morning when melt water from the previous day may be frozen.
- Use special care when entering or exiting vehicles. Don't jump from vehicles and equipment.
- When getting out of your vehicle, look down at the surface. If it’s coated with ice you might want to park in a different place. Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
- Use the vehicle for support. Where practicable, brace yourself with the vehicle door and seat back before standing. This will give you some stability.
- When climbing in or out of a vehicle, face the vehicle, whenever practicable, and always use the three point contact rule; always keep three points in contact with the vehicle, either one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot.
- Use the access steps, footholds, handholds and rails provided on the vehicle to support you when entering or exiting.
- When entering buildings or homes, be aware that immediate entrances and stairs may be slippery from melted ice or snow. When you see such a hazard, bring it to the attention of the person in charge.
- Bring to the attention of your manager or supervisor any walkways or entrances that are slippery.
- Report any concerns, hazards, or slip, trip or fall incidents to your supervisor
Source: City of Toronto - Toronto, Canada