As we all get ready to hunker down and ride out Hurricane Laura, many of us are already thinking about dealing with the aftermath of the storm.

One of the things that often makes the clean-up more difficult is the loss of power. But of course, there are many of us who are equipped with some sort of generator for when the power does go out.

Do you really know how to safely operate your generator? Improper use of power generators can be a hazard to your safety and of those around you.

Remember that all gas, diesel, propane and natural gas generators produce carbon monoxide. If the generator is not used in a well-ventilated area, toxic levels of this colorless, odorless gas can build up quickly.

Every year, carbon monoxide claims hundreds of lives and makes many more ill. It is recommended to use generators outside and more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.

Lafayette Utilities Systems (LUS) want to remind everyone that improperly using power generators is a hazard to the lineman working on the power lines as well.

Backfeeding occurs when a generator is plugged into a home's wiring or directly into a circuit breaker panel and generated electricity is pushed back into the power lines coming into the home.

A utility transformer can step up the backfeed to thousands of volts, re-energizing downed power lines and becoming an electrocution hazard to LUS linemen and technicians working on repairs farther down the line.

Although obviously a little late for this storm, it is recommended that you hire an electrician to install a manual transfer switch to isolate the home's electrical system. This switch will help prevent the generator from pushing electricity out into the utility lines as well as protect the generator once power is restored to the line by LUS.

However, when used properly, generators can supply power safely to your home during emergency situations.

If you're an LUS customer and you experience a power outage, call (337) 291-9200 and for downed power lines or other electrical issues, call (337) 291-5700.

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