By: Paul LaGrange, LaGrange Consulting
Many people turn to a portable generator for a temporary solution without knowing the risks.
- Each appliance should be connected to the generator with its own dedicated extension cord. Use the grounded type of extension cord. Do not combine multiple appliances on one extension cord with a splitter.
- Match the correct gauge extension cord and length to the appliance.
- The lower the gauge rating - the heavier the extension cord wiring. Large appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, and large window AC units require 10 gauge extension cords.
- The length of the cord is just as important as the proper gauge sizing. The length of the cord should equal or near equal to the distance between the appliance and the generator. If you have an extension cord that is too long, stretch the cord out instead of leaving large excess all coiled up. Stretching the cord out will allow proper heat dissipation.
- Generators should be operated in well-ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.
- Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the overhead door open.
- Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building. Make certain that your neighbor’s generator is not exhausting fumes into your home via an open window or door.
- Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
- Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a licensed electrician install a Power Transfer Switch.
- Generators produce powerful voltage - Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain or remaining flood waters.
- Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
- After 48 hours of usage, the oil in a portable gas generator should be changed. Turn the unit off and allow it to cool down. Then, change the oil per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.