Inclement weather often leads to power outages that can last for many days. This can throw a household into turmoil as batteries die, food thaws, and we’re unable to heat or cool our homes.
Luckily, generators can reduce losses, improve comfort, and help your household return to normal more easily. Nonetheless, you need to know how to use a generator properly. Otherwise, inexperience and improper usage may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution, or fire.
Here are the basic rules for using a generator safely. Always read your manual for any additional requirements for your generator model.
Operate Away From Structures
Generators operate on fuel that produces dangerous emissions that can kill. Never run one inside a partially closed or closed building, including your garage or under your home’s eaves.
Position the generator well-away from structures and at 15 feet away from open windows.
Keep It Dry
Bad storms usually bring a lot of rain which can soak an unprotected generator and increase the risk of electrocution.
Always operate the generator under a canopy and keep it and the ground beneath it dry. Never touch the generator with wet hands, either.
Plug in Safely
Don’t plug the generator into a wall socket and don’t use a double-ended male extension cord to “back feed” electricity either. This dangerous practice is popular since it eliminates extension cords. However, it is illegal and can kill members of your household, visitors, neighbors, and power company linemen.
Plug any appliances or tools directly into the generator, and turn them on one at a time to avoid overloading the circuit. Use heavy-duty outdoor rated extension , grounded, extension cords of sufficient gauge to handle the load.
Switch Off House Power
If you don’t want to use extensions cords to plug in appliances, hire an electrician and install a transfer switch. Once installed, you’ll be able to switch between the generator and your home’s usual system.
Whether you have a transfer switch or not, switch your house power off. Otherwise, the power generated can travel back into the utility lines increasing risk for utility workers. Once the generator is running, make sure kids and pets stay away as some components get quite hot.
Store Fuel Safely
Read your manual to understand how much fuel you will need on certain settings and the specific fuel recommended. If you intend to store fuel for a long time, you may need to use additives.
Always use proper fuel containers and store generator fuel in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, away from your home and heat sources. Before refuelling, allow the generator to cool.
Maintain Your Generator
Carefully look over your generator each summer or fall to ensure it is in tip-top shape. The last thing you want to discover is something is cracked or leaking when you need your generator to work.
Run your generator periodically so you know it will be ready when you need it. If the fuel has been in the tank too long, you may need to replace it. Always store your generator in a dry location.