When the electricity goes out, it's so convenient to have a standby generator ready to power your home. Yet, if you're not careful, generators can cause other problems, such as carbon monoxide poisoning or a house fire. To ensure you don't end up causing a problem worse than a power outage, follow these tips to use your generator safely.
Don't place the generator near a window or door.
Never put a generator inside, and when placing it outside, ensure you don't place it near any windows or doors. Even if the windows and doors are closed, there are likely some gaps where air can flow into your home. The generator will give off carbon monoxide as it burns gas or propane, and if that carbon monoxide ends up in your home, you could end up suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning that may lead to confusion, headaches, nausea and even death. The CDC recommends placing generators at least 20 feet from any windows, doors, or vents to guard against CO poisoning.
Turn the generator off before re-fueling.
If the power goes off for a long time, you may find that your generator runs out of fuel and needs to be re-fueled at some point. If this occurs, make sure you let the generator cool off before you add more gas or propane. Otherwise, you risk an explosion if you spill any gas on a hot engine part.
Store your fuel far from the generator.
Your generator is essentially a combustion engine. It's designed to burn fuel, and it will get warm. If there's fuel stored nearby, that fuel may ignite and start a fire. So, store your fuel as far from the generator as possible. Make sure it's stored in an approved can and away from any other heat-generating appliances, too.
Use a heavy-duty cord.
Make sure the cord you are using to connect appliances to the generator is rated for outdoor use. Also, check its maximum capacity (usually listed in amps) and make sure it is greater than the total amperage of the appliances you're plugging into the generator. Look over the cord for any rips, tears or cuts. Otherwise, you may overload the cord and cause a fire.
If you are a new generator owner, it's a good idea to have a professional come install the generator and ensure it's properly set up for use. This will help you avoid safety hazards when you do eventually need to use the generator.