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Generators, saws can be dangerous, deadly

Saws are buzzing and the air is filled with the noise ofgenerators in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Many first-time users are cranking up newly purchased generatorsand chain saws to cleanup their property and to supply generatedpower to their homes.

Herb Willcutt, extension safety specialist, said rushing toclean up can be a deadly mistake. New chain saw and generatoroperators should take the time to review instruction manuals andnot assume they know how to run their newly purchased items.

“Many chain saw accidents occur when the operators fail torespect the deadly potential of their saw,” Willcutt said.”Remember, the chain saw is designed to cut wood. The chain won’thave any problem cutting flesh and bone, and it won’t be likenicking yourself with a knife or razor blade.”

Even experienced operators have accidents as a result of the

unpredictability of fallen trees and the potential of lettingtheir

guard down. Everyone should analyze the job realistically anddecide if a more experienced operator should be called or ifexhaustion could be increasing the danger. No one should workalone.

“Sharp chains make the job easier and safer from a fatiguestandpoint,” Willcutt said.

Generators can also be a potential danger for the noviceoperator, Willcutt said.

“Portable generators can be as deadly as a downed power line,”said Willcutt.

Generators should always be located outside in a well ventilatedarea – not in carports, garages or sheds or outbuildings, saidWillcutt.

Another point Willcut made was that many new generator ownersoften fail to ground their generators. He said the best way toground them is by locating them near the house’s meter base and runa short wire to the meter’s grounding rod.

“A (generator’s) frame can become a source of electrical shockif its not grounded properly,” Willcutt said.

Most importantly, Willcutt said, most portable generators cannotpower all items in a home. It can only handle a few items at a timeand sometimes only one item, depending on the appliance’swattage.

A table can usually be found in the owner’s manual that tellswhat most appliances typically pull in wattage, he said.Refrigerators usually pull less than 1,000 watts, where a waterpump will pull 1,000 watts for each horsepower.

Willicut stressed that homeowners shouldn’t try to wire into ahome’s main wiring. Professional electricians should be called tomake sure wiring is hooked up correctly.

Also, have plenty of fuel on hand and don’t refuel a generatorwhile it’s hot, said Willcut. Stop for periods of time, and let thegenerator cool down and then refuel, he said. And by all means,Willicut said, store fuel away from the generator, which is sourceof heat.