Jan. 19, 2005
Tips for Weathering a Blackout
Safety Tips from the Local Emergency Planning Committee
In the past few columns, we've discussed alternate sources of heat and how to use them safely. In this column, we'll talk about how to keep warm when the power goes out. Be prepared by creating a Disaster Supplies Kit for your home. Essential items for a blackout include:
If you lose electrical service during the winter,
If you choose to buy a generator, make sure you get one that is rated for the amount of power you think you will need. Look at the labels on lighting, appliances, and equipment you plan to connect to the generator to determine the amount of power that will be needed to operate the equipment.
Make sure your wiring system is disconnected from the utility service before operating the generator. When using a portable generator, make sure the main circuit breaker in your electric service panel box is in the OFF position. If you have a fuse box instead of breakers, pull out the main block, remove the fuses, and reinsert the empty block. This is necessary to prevent your generator's electricity from going back into the utility's system, which could endanger the lives of line crews and your neighbors. It's also required by the National Electrical Code.
The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. Follow the directions supplied with the generator.
To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. To protect the generator from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Dry your hands if wet before touching the generator.
The above information was provided by the American Red Cross, New York State Emergency Management Office, and Niagara Mohawk - a National Grid Company.
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