Generators can be a wonderful way to keep things going in the event of a temporary power outage. But as with any other appliance, they need to be treated with respect. In fact, generators can pose some special dangers that you should be aware of.
To protect yourself, your neighbors and YEC line personnel, please follow these tips when using a back-up generator.
- As soon as you buy a portable generator and take it out of the box, read the directions carefully and learn to operate it correctly. If you wait until the power goes off, you will probably be in a hurry and you may be in the dark. This could lead to accidents.
- Never operate a generator inside the house or in other confined spaces. Internal-combustion engines give off carbon monoxide gas, which is deadly in a closed environment. For safe operation, place the generator in a well-ventilated area such as a porch or open carport where the carbon monoxide produced will be vented.
- Never wire your generator directly into your home's electrical system or plug it directly into the wall outlets unless you have a double-throw switch installed at the circuit box by a licensed electrician. A generator wired into the electrical system without a double-throw switch can send electricity back onto YEC's system. This could be potentially fatal to crews working to restore your power or anyone else who comes in contact with power lines. If a double-throw switch has not been installed, appliances should be plugged directly into the unit. Contact the YEC engineering department for advice on properly wiring your generator.
More About Generator Safety
View a text version of both the "Your Power Outage Pantry" infographic and "Generator Safety" video.
Power Outage FAQ
YEC uses an automatic phone answering system to handle power outage reports. If your correct phone number is on file with our office, your phone call can be handled more efficiently. Having the correct contact information also allows us to make any follow-up calls to you about electric service problems. If your phone number has changed since you signed up for your electric service, please contact our member services department at 803-684-4248.
This depends on the amount of damage sustained and current conditions. Field personnel must complete a damage assessment before any reliable estimate can be made.
Momentary outages occur when a disturbance on the line is detected. These disturbances could be caused by a lightning strike, a squirrel or tree branch contacting the line, or a downed line or outage in a nearby area, etc. If a fault or short circuit occurs on a power line, a device called a recloser opens to stop it and then quickly closes. This device allows power to continue flowing through the line with only a brief interruption of service rather than causing an extended power outage. Although the process is quick and usually temporary, it may cause your lights to blink. If the short circuit continues, the recloser will operate or ‘trip’ three times before eventually stopping the flow of electricity and causing a power outage. This process protects the lines from damage by cutting off power to the affected section of the line and isolating the problem until it can be repaired.
Causes of Power Outages & Blinks
Some neighborhoods get electricity from several different circuits, so you may notice your lights are out, but your neighbors have power. In such cases, the problem could be originating from your house’s electric line, a particular tap line, a main feeder line, or at the substation. For us to determine where the problem originates, it is extremely important that you call 1-866-374-1234 and report the outage with your exact street address and correct phone number.
This may be an incidence of partial power. At this point, members should unplug large/major appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, air conditioners, etc., as this could cause a power fluctuation and result in another outage. Once lights are bright, indicating full power has been restored, it is safe to plug in major appliances.
During times of multiple power outages, YEC concentrates our initial restoration efforts in the areas and on the power lines that restore electricity to the greatest number of people in the shortest period of time. We place emphasis on vital community services, emergency services, and public safety. Please be patient, and we will restore your electric service as soon as we possibly can.
Many people think that the loud noise they heard was the sound of a transformer exploding, due to lightning or other extreme conditions. This was probably not the case. The noise could have been a fuse blowing. YEC’s power lines use fuses in a similar manner to the way you use fuses in your home. These fuses protect parts of our distribution system when severe weather strikes. The noise can be substantial leading many people to think something has exploded. When reporting an outage, it is very helpful when you tell us you heard a loud noise because it helps us isolate the location of problems on our lines.
Some smoke alarms are powered by AC (alternating current) and use a battery backup. When these units lose power momentarily they may chirp several times to inform you they are on backup power or are returning to main power. For more information, review the manufacturer’s documentation on your type of alarm.
You should first refer to your disaster plan and call your home health nurse and physician. You should notify your family and/or friends and call EMS especially if your situation is life threatening. YEC reminds members who have extreme critical health needs that require a continuous power source during an outage, to make arrangements before the crisis to relocate to a place where those needs can be met. Another option is to make personal arrangements for a generator to hook up to machines that have to be kept running. Generators should never be hooked into a home or business’ electric circuit. Generators should only be connected directly to critical care machines or other appliances.
In a major storm, assume you may be without power for some time. Turn off electric appliances (like an iron or stove) so you won’t create a safety hazard when the power is turned back on. Remember to include air-conditioning among appliances you turn off. Never report hazardous situations by e-mail. Always call the office at 1-866-374-1234 so we can respond immediately!
Check for water saturation of your ceilings and light fittings inside and outside. If wet, call us immediately. If there is no obvious damage to your light fittings, turn off all but one light. Check the lighting circuit’s fuse or circuit breaker operation at your switchboard. Turn off your main switch and replace the fuse. Turn the main switch again. If the fuse blows, call YEC.
If you receive a tingling sensation from any electrical appliances, turn off the electricity immediately. Do not make contact with or let anyone else near the suspected appliance and call YEC.
Lights being dimmer than usual, hot plates slow to cook, and motors failing to start are all indicative that there might be a problem in the high voltage system. If you observe any of these in your home, turn appliances off and unplug them. Leave a minimum of lights on (such as a fluorescent) and call YEC.
If you notice unusual periodic variations in the normal brightness of your lights – sometimes very bright, sometimes dull – call us. These are symptoms of a potentially hazardous situation. Turn off all your motors and appliances, and leave a minimum of lights on.