Tips for Using a Portable Generator During a Power Outage

Lawrence Kim

When there is a power outage, it helps to have a portable generator at home in order to get power for the things you really need. However, there are also some fire and electrical dangers of using a generator, so you need to be sure you know how to use it safely and effectively. Here are some important things to keep in mind when using a generator during a power outage.

Only Use the Generator Outdoors

You should never store or use your portable generator indoors, even during a power outage. This is extremely important to remember. Do not keep the generator in a crawl space, basement, attic, or garage. Even ventilating the area is not going to prevent you from carbon monoxide problems. Keep it in a secure place that is outside your home and not attached in any way. A detached garage or shed are fine for using the generator as long as it is not connected to your home. If you have dizziness or weakness after turning it on, get fresh air immediately.

Keep Electrical Safety in Mind

While generators are a great way to have power during a power outage, there are also some electrical hazards you need to be aware of. For example, be sure you are not overpowering the generator by plugging in too many appliances while it is working. Use minimal electricity in your home when you have the generator running. Know the capacity of the generator beforehand, or ask an electrician for tips on knowing how much it can handle. Also keep the generator dry, avoiding using it if it gets wet from rain or snow. Never use the generator if it has cords that look worn or cut.

Know the General Usage Instructions

A power outage should not be the first time to use the power generator, as it will be dark and difficult to read the instructions. Make sure you are fully aware of how to store and use the generator prior to an emergency. It needs to have plenty of fuel, which should be replaced routinely. Check it periodically for the fuel level and to make sure the generator turns on. When putting in more fuel, make sure it is turned off and cool. Do not plug a generator into a wall outlet, even an exterior one. This is back feeding and is very dangerous to do. When you want to connect it to the wiring in your house, contact an electrician to do it for you. They might use a power transfer switch, which allows you to connect it safely.

If you have any questions about using generators or about any other electrical work in your home, consider contacting a local electrical company, such as Austec Electrical, for more information.