Staying Safe Around Electricity At Home

Precautions To Remember When Using A Generator For Emergency Power

by Victoria Leclercq

Adverse weather conditions like ice storms, heavy snow or severe thunderstorms can all leave you without power, making a portable generator a prudent investment. Before you go shopping though it's important that you understand some precautions you'll need to take to keep your home and the people working to restore power safe. Being prepared and knowing what is involved in responsible operation of your generator will ensure that you're ready the next time the lights go out.

Making the Right Connections

How you go about connecting your generator to the appliances and lighting in your home makes a world of difference. Avoid using back-feeding techniques to power your whole home with a single cord, and instead run extension cords for each major appliance or room. Back feeding charges all the power lines in range, which can energize wires that may be under repair, and has the potential to be lethal.

Look for a generator that has multiple output points for extension cords to avoid stacking one onto another, and creating a hazard in your home. This will allow you to feed power directly to a room without an adapter. If you'd rather avoid this altogether you can also hire an electrician to install a transfer switch on your home for around $1300 which will allow you to swap from municipal power to your generator without energizing the adjacent power grid.

Running it Right

Safely running a generator involves proper planning and having the right supplies on hand for the periodic maintenance necessary for a small engine. Start by finding a level spot in your yard where the generator can be stationed during operation. Level ground will ensure that the gravity fed fuel tank and the oil pan for the engine can properly supply their contents.

Necessary supplies will include small engine oil recommended by the manufacturer, replacement oil filters, and sufficient fuel to run the generator. Make sure you're completely shutting down the generator before refueling, and allowing it to cool in case of spills while topping off the tank. The frequency of oil changes will depend on the size of the generator, the amount of electricity it's supplying and several other factors, so consult with the owner's manual or manufacturer for specific details.

Having a portable generator in case of prolonged power outages is a good step to take in order to prepare for severe weather season. Knowing how to use and maintain it will ensure that your home and your investment stay safe. Learn more here.