In the midst of Tropical Storm Isaias, it’s never too late to stay up to date with properly maintaining your generator during a power outage.

Use Caution When Using Back-Up Power Generators

During a long-term power outage, some county residents may rely on portable generators for emergency power. If installed and operated correctly, use of standby or portable electric generators poses little danger, but improper installation or use could be dangerous, and even deadly.. Read these tips for the safe operation and use of portable generators:

  • Correct Usage of a Generator – Follow the directions supplied with the generator. Incorrect generator use can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electric shock or electrocution and fire.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors – If you or someone in your home starts to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, move to fresh air right away — do not delay. Install CO alarms in your home that are battery-operated or have battery back-up. Test batteries frequently and replace when needed.

Placement of a Generator

  • Place the generator in a dry, outside location.
  • Place the generator away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Generators should be at least20 feet away from buildings. Even20 feet away, air flow patterns could still blow carbon monoxide into homes through attic vents, windows, or doors, so it’s very important to have a working carbon monoxide detector inside the home.
  • To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry. Do not use in rain or wet conditions. Operate on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure. Make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.

Use and Storage of Generator Fuel

  • Turn the generator off and let it cool before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
  • Store fuel in an approved safety can outside of living areas, preferably in a locked shed or other protected area. Local laws may restrict use or storage of fuel. Ask your local fire department for information.
  • If you spill fuel or do not seal the container properly, invisible vapors can travel along the ground and be ignited by an appliance’s pilot light or arcs from electric switches in the appliance.
  • Use the type of fuel recommended in the generator instructions or on its label.

Connecting the Generator

  • Protect your appliances. Turn off or unplug all appliances and lights before you begin operating the portable generator. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit.
  • Use proper extension cords. Use only safety-tested, shop-type electrical cords designed and rated for heavier, outdoor use to connect appliances.
  • Never try to power house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “back feeding.” It can lead to the electrocution of utility workers or neighbors served by the same utility transformer. The only safe way to connect a generator to house wiring is to have a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch.

Shutting down the Generator After a Power Outage

  • Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator.
  • Also remember maintenance between uses. It’s important to drain the gasoline from the generator while it is being stored. It’s also a good idea to inspect the fuel and oil filters, spark plug, oil level and fuel quality and start the generator on a regular basis before an emergency situation happens.

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