Electricity is something many don’t think about until it’s not working. For some, backup plans are already in place to ensure a continual flow of power when storms or high winds threaten to disrupt service.
The use of portable generators is commonplace during power outages, but you may not know they can potentially create one of the more dangerous situations for the linemen trying to restore power to you and your neighbors. When a generator is plugged into a wall outlet, service panel or breaker box, it produces a “backfeed,” which happens when electrical energy flows in the reverse direction from its normal flow. A backfeed reenergizes the transformer closest to your house, and puts linemen at risk of electrocution.
Think of a transformer as a funnel. As electricity enters the transformer from the powerlines, it is funneled out at a lower voltage sufficient to provide power to a household. When it enters from the reverse direction, it has the opposite effect, returning the voltage to a higher level. Linemen who are caught unaware of a backfeed could risk serious injury, or even death.
It is never recommended to plug a generator into a wall outlet, service panel or breaker box; instead, plug appliances and other electrical devices directly into the generator as specified in the product’s operating instructions. In the event you find it necessary to plug the generator into a wall outlet, flipping your property’s main breaker to the “off” position may provide protection to linemen working in the area. This position prevents electricity from flowing into or out of the breaker. Remember to disconnect your generator from the wall outlet prior to turning the breaker back on.
Linemen spend countless hours in dangerous situations making sure power continues to flow to every member in our service area. Help us take the necessary steps to keep them safe.