Power outages are a major inconvenience in a modern world that relies on electricity for basic daily needs. While blackouts that last for under an hour are an annoyance, blackouts that last for a day or more can cause huge problems. Maybe you have hundreds of dollars worth of perishable foods that are going to go bad, or you’re left to sweat it out at home with no air conditioning.
To prepare for these situations, many households purchase a generator. There are two main types of generators on the market, portable and standby. Portable generators are a popular option among consumers because they are generally easy to run and much more inexpensive than standby generators. Today, we’re focusing on portable generators and how to operate them safely.
Before you plug in your generator, you must make sure that it is appropriately stored and located in a spot that is optimal for performance and safety. Here are a few tips:
- Read your instructions. This tip might sound quite obvious, but we’d be remiss to not to tell you to first and foremost consult the instruction manual that came with your generator. If you still have questions, contact a local electrical professional.
- Never use your generator indoors. Portable generators are powered by gasoline. If they are operated indoors, or even in a partially enclosed space outdoors, they present the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable generators should always be operated outdoors in an open area, away from all doors or windows. If you have a small yar, or are concerned that you still might be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, a good rule of thumb is to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
- Be cautious of wet or moist conditions. Power outages commonly happen during storms. Because of this, it is critical that you store your generator in a place where it will stay dry, and that you operate the generator with great caution in wet or moist conditions. Absolutely do not let water accumulate or drain under your generator.
- Make sure that children or pets are not near the generator. Before you start operating your portable generator, check to ensure that any children or pets are not near. Let curious children know what a generator is, but also explain to them the dangers of using a portable generator.
Running a portable isn’t as simple as plugging it in and flipping a switch. Here are some tips to power your home safely.
- Never plug a portable generator directly into the wall. Plugging your generator directly into the wall can cause backfeed. Backfeed happens when the flow of electricity starts moving in a reverse direction. Backfeeding is dangerous as it can cause fires, injure linemen, and is often illegal.
- Use heavy duty extension cords. To avoid backfeed or an electrical disaster, use heavy duty extension cords to connect to appliances and outlets.
- Prioritize your needs. During a power outage, what appliances to you absolutely need to run? Do you really need your t.v. and Xbox? Pick your priority appliances to power, turn the generator on before plugging in your devices one at a time.
Your generator can’t provide power without fuel. Here are some tips to fuel your generator safely.
- Is your generator cool to the touch? Always make sure that your generator is turned off and cool to the touch before fueling.
- Store safely. You should always store gasoline in legally approved containers. Also, if you are storing your generator with fuel in the tank, store it in a place where it is not liable to potentially catch fire.
- Don’t overfill the tank. Overfueling the tank doesn’t leave room for fuel expansion, which can cause a fire or explosion.