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Seminar teaches safe generator use; Proper use saves lives

By Staff | May 15, 2008

Generator owners and curious residents of Cape Coral and the surrounding area came out to a free generator safety seminar put on by the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association, the Lee County Electric Coop. and the city of Cape Coral on Wednesday night.

The seminar was held at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd. It provided presentations from fire and electric officials regarding the safe use of generators during Florida’s busy hurricane seasons and the dangers posed by carbon monoxide and fire.

“I’ve increased my education,” said former educator and former Cape resident Marshall Rogers. Rogers currently lives in North Fort Myers. “More people should have been here.”

“I had a generator for six years, and I never used it until (Hurricane) Charley,” said Rogers. “I was sure glad I had it.”

Rogers moved to Southwest Florida in 1994, a previous resident of Iowa.

“(Hurricanes) were a new and rare experience for me,” he said.

In Iowa, tornadoes were what Rogers worried about when the clouds turned gray.

“I like the advanced warning; at least you have time to get prepared (for hurricanes),” Rogers said.

Rogers said he came to the seminar to make sure he was using his generator safely and properly. He said the information would “absolutely” save lives.

Officials explained the role of the fire department in the aftermath of a hurricane, and gave basic guidelines of generator safety, such as:

— Do not connect a generator directly to a home’s wiring.

— Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet.

— Do not overload a generator.

— Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.

“Our job is to go out and make sure folks are safe,” said Cape Coral Fire Department Public Education Assistant Dave Webster. “Sometimes it’s as simple as listening for the sound of a generator.”

Webster said the department does everything it can to educate people on how to avoid preventable disasters, sometimes going door to door with fliers on generator safety.

Coupled with the dedication and efforts of emergency workers after a hurricane, knowledge of what to do in the event of a storm saves lives, he said.

“That’s why I’m glad they have these every year,” Webster said about hurricane seminars.

Citizens also learned how to hook up their generators, which generators to use and what electrical items can be powered given different types of generators.

LCEC representatives and fire officials also fielded questions from the audience regarding generator use during a hurricane.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season for 2008 begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.