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Portable generator safety a must for successful use

August 31, 2016   By Willard Strong in

Portable generator safety tips

All these storms forming off the coast of faraway lands, and even closer to our shores are making me quite nervous as we are now facing the heart of hurricane season.

Just the prospect of a tropical storm or hurricane lurking about can prey on your mind. It’s time to plan. One thing that appeals to many people is the purchase of a portable gasoline generator to run the refrigerator, lights and a flatscreen TV while power is being restored.

A portable generator can cost from several hundred dollars to a thousand or more. But like any internal combustion engine that burns a flammable liquid and emits potentially deadly carbon monoxide, safety is paramount. The National Safety Council offers the following safety safety tips. No. 9 is especially close to our heart at Santee Cooper.

  1. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.

  2. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.

  3. Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents or doors.

  4. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area that you’re running the generator.

  5. Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool two minutes or longer before refueling. Always use fresh gasoline (preferably non-ethanol). Cheap insurance is a gas stabilizer, an additive that will treat the gas in the generator’s tank for up to a year of non-use. You may prefer to keep the tank empty and use fresh gas.

  6. Maintain your generator according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety. Change the oil at least once a year, and always check the oil level before operating. Synthetic small-engine oil doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as conventional oil during a typical generator’s long periods of non-use, and will keep your generator’s engine cleaner for the duration of its service life.

  7. Never operate the generator near combustible materials.

  8. If you use extension cords, make sure they’re the grounded type and are rated for the application.

  9. Never plug your generator directly into your home’s electrical system. This is a biggie. If you want to accomplish this, have a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch. This may cost $500 to $600 or more, depending on the particulars of your home.

  10. Generators produce powerful voltage. Never operate them under wet conditions, so take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow. Generators can make recovering from a storm a whole lot easier to deal with and rest assured that Santee Cooper will, as always, restore power to your home or business as quickly and as safely as possible.

For more storm tips, visit our website.