Have a Generator? Please Read—It Could Save a Life!
National Lineman Appreciation Day was April 18. Coincidentally, Mother Nature brought us a fierce windstorm that day, bringing all Northern Lights, Inc. (NLI) linemen from their homes to work. These linemen worked for the next 24 hours repairing the lines to restore power to NLI members. We truly appreciate our linemen and all they do for us.
During storm restoration, one of our NLI linemen had an electrical contact. He was checking an individual service that was out of power and had an improperly installed a generator. The generator backfed electricity onto our equipment and shocked the lineman. Thankfully, the lineman was able to quickly release his hold and get to the ground. He only experienced minor injuries and is extremely lucky. He easily could have died.
What is generator backfeed? Backfeed occurs when power travels from the generator back through the utility lines and reenergizes them, creating a potentially deadly situation for linemen.
To prevent backfeed, generators—whether permanent or portable—should never be plugged into a home’s wiring or directly into the circuit breaker panel. Instead, a transfer switch should be installed. A transfer switch ensures your household wiring, or selected circuits to be supplied by the generator, can’t be connected to the power grid and the generator at the same time, eliminating any chance of backfeed. It also protects your generator from damage if the power is restored while it’s connected. Make sure a qualified, licensed electrician installs the transfer switch for you.
NLI’s responsibility for electric service ends at the meter. We do not know when, or if, you have installed a generator, and we do not know if the installation was done to the specifications of the National Electric Code.
When the power goes out, having a generator means you can continue to have heat, light, and many other conveniences we’ve come to enjoy. Please make sure you aren’t creating unnecessary danger by properly and safely using your generator to prevent backfeed. It could save a life!