Preventing Electrocutions When Plugged Into Household Circuits
When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes or other structures by using another power source, such as a portable generator. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
If using a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, contact a qualified electrician immediately. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.
If supplying power to a building via a gasoline or diesel-powered generator, make sure the main breaker or fuse on the service panel is set to "off" prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generators, and help protect utility line workers or other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse, the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings to at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of utility or other workers.
Effects of Backfeed
The problem of backfeed in electrical energy is a potential risk for electrical energy workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths. Following the safety guidelines can reduce this risk.
Other Generator Hazards
Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used in well ventilated areas.