3 Safety Tips For Using A Generator During A Power Outage

3 Safety Tips For Using A Generator During A Power Outage
In Florida, you always need to be prepared for Hurricane season, but you also need to be ready for any other disaster or severe storm that may knock your power out for days on end.
Investing in homeowners insurance, and in a policy with good coverage of disaster-related damage, fires, floods, wind damage, and more, is key. And don’t forget to outfit your car with emergency supplies as well in case you are caught away from home when disaster strikes.

One of the most important steps to take in preparing for what you hope will never come, is to invest in a generator to keep your fans, refrigerator, a few electronics, and cell phone chargers all functional even during a blackout.

Here are three very important safety tips to keep in mind when you actually get ready to use your portable/stationary emergency generator:

1. Guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.
As we’ve already seen, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious danger to anyone that uses a generator for their home. This gas cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, and yet it can be lethal within a matter of minutes. It’s important that you take the warnings concerning carbon monoxide poisoning seriously and follow these safety tips.

First of all, keep battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms dispersed throughout your home and be sure to test and replace the batteries periodically as needed.

Next, never run a generator inside your home, in the garage, or in any enclosed structure. Don’t even place it near an open window of your house. Try to locate the generator downwind from your house and keep the windows on that side of your house closed.

If anyone in your home experiences dizziness, headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, or other signs of possible carbon monoxide exposure, get them fresh air and medical attention immediately.

2. Guard against electrocution.
You need to buy a generator that has plenty of power, one that can handle up to three times your power load since starting up the generator requires much higher output than just running it. But with a powerful electrical machine comes the danger of electric shock or electrocution. Never operate your generator in wet conditions. It needs to sit on a dry surface outdoors.

Add up the total Watts-load you need, and be sure you use a heavy duty outdoor-rated power cord that can handle that kind of Wattage. Also be sure the power cord is not damaged and that the plug has all three of its prongs.

Never “backfeed” power into your home by plugging the generator’s power cord into an outlet. That is a huge electrocution risk for you, your family, and your neighbors. Make sure you keep your main breaker in the OFF position. Otherwise you run the risk of electrocuting any lineman who works on restoring power to your home.

3. Guard against fire hazards.
Your homeowners insurance may cover fire damage, but not necessarily if you start the fire yourself by mishandling your generator. Store your extra fuel in containers designed for gas or whatever fuel you are using and keep it some distance away from anything that could spark or start a fire. Don’t use any fuel for your generator except what the manufacturer recommends.

Make sure you turn the generator off and let it cool a bit before refueling since gas on a hot engine is a leading cause of fires. You can stagger your generator’s operation times to prevent overheating or overloading, which could either start a fire or simply ruin your generator, based on the recommendations from your generator’s product manual.

To learn more about keeping your home safe during an emergency or for a free homeowners insurance quote, contact Flagler County Insurance Agency.