Proper generator installation can be matter of life and death - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Proper generator installation can be matter of life and death

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There are hundreds of thousands without power across Louisiana and more may suffer outages until Isaac is gone.

Many people use generators until power is restored. And generator safety can mean the difference between life and death.

After a hurricane, the electricity people normally take for granted often becomes a major issue from power outages to unexpected hazards.

As Isaac moved westward and the wind picked up, Entergy crews were busy responding. But there comes a point when it's too dangerous and they must wait for the worst to pass.

Entergy spokesman Chip Arnould says crews get out to restore power as soon as it's safe. "Restoration has been slowed until the wind speeds go below sustained thirty mile per hour. The wind speed is based on the capability of the equipment that they use such as the aerial buckets and aerial equipment. The equipment is not rated to be stable in wind speeds higher than that," said Arnould.

 In the interim many businesses and residents use generators. It's crucial to make sure generators do not cause a back feed that could electrocute workers trying to restore power. "If you're putting a portable generator up in the time of the storm utilize an extension cord and just power your appliances straight from the generator, rather than trying to hook that generator up to your whole house," said Arnould.

 Arnould says it's critical to prepare before--not in the middle of a storm or its immediate aftermath. "You can definitely call Entergy pre-storm and we would love to have someone go out there and give you some guidance on putting the proper switching in to be sure that you isolate your generator system from our electrical system," said Arnould.

 Also Arnould reminds those using generators there must be adequate ventilation in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning which can be lethal.

During Hurricane Ike in 2008, a Calcasieu Sheriff's Deputy and his dad died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a generator running without proper ventilation.

For more information on generator safety and other resources, including the latest on power outages for Entergy customers click here.

But improper installation of generators can endanger homeowners as well as Entergy workers who may later be working to re-instate power after an outage.

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