Portable generators are extremely useful during times of power outages or when portable power is required. However, no matter how useful they are, they can be dangerous if they aren't used properly. If you've never used a portable generator, here are three safety tips.
Work in Open Spaces to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Portable generators are powered by gas, so you should only use them outdoors. Never use one in enclosed areas; this includes your garage even if you have the door wide open. Always ensure your generator has three to four feet of clearance on every side to guarantee proper ventilation. Finally, don't position the generator near the home if there are windows or doors open. Even though the machine is outside, the carbon monoxide can build up inside.
Be Cautious When Refilling the Engine with Gas
When your generator has been running, the engine will be very hot. Gasoline and its vapors are very flammable and can easily ignite. If you need to refill the generator after it's been running, always let the engine cool for at least two minutes before you have gas anywhere near it. Never use gas that you took from another item. Don't forget to stabilize gas with fuel stabilizer if you aren't going to use the generator within 30 days.
Use Extension Cords Carefully
If you have to plug your generator in for whatever reason, remember you can't use any extension cord. Only use cords that are grounded and rated for the use of your generator. Your generator's instructions will have this information; if you don't have them anymore, call the manufacturer for direct advice. Always uncoil the cords because coiled cords get very hot and can spark a fire with the generator's gasoline.
Call Mister Sparky During Electrical Outages
If your home is in the dark, but your neighbor's house is still shining brightly, call Mister Sparky to determine the problem. Portable generators work great during power outages, but you can use them sparingly when you have a trusted electrician just a phone call away.