Whenever there’s an extreme thunderstorm or hurricane, what follows is usually power outages which can drag on for weeks and it is in situations such as this a portable generator can make things a bit more comfortable.
If you live or plan to live in a region that is prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, it’d be a wise move to have a standby portable generator in your home against the rainy days. (No pun intended).
You may also have the hard-luck of living in regions with poor or irregular power supply. You’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t own a portable power generator in this case.
No doubt, portable generators are convenient and bring much-needed relief in the event of power outages, however, they are hardly used correctly. If they were, then carbon monoxide poisoning wouldn’t be a thing.
In this article, we will run through the various ways you can make yourself and your household safe whenever you utilize your portable power generator.
Portable Power Generator Safety Tips
Use outdoors only
The portable generator is built to be used outdoors only for safety purposes. The exhaust fumes that emanate from the unit are meant to be dispersed into the atmosphere.
Running the generator indoors will fill your apartment with dangerous carbon monoxide. These are poisonous fumes that can be fatally harmful to your family and pets.
So, if you’re thinking of running your generator set in the basement, garage, or attic, bin that idea. Also, merely putting the power generator outside but close to the house is still as dangerous as leaving it indoors.
The reason is that strong winds can blow the exhaust from the unit into the house via an open window or door.
We recommend keeping the generator at least 10 feet away from the building. Doing this may still not be enough as winds can still blow the exhaust into your house from that distance.
This is why you may have to go the extra mile by installing carbon monoxide detectors in the home.
Ensure the generator is kept dry at all times
Don’t forget that the portable generator produces electricity. This means if handled improperly, it can be an electrocution hazard.
With this in mind, you should avoid placing the unit on wet ground or puddles as these could easily conduct electricity.
Also, unless you have a dedicated shelter for your power generator outdoor, never use it when it’s raining.
In addition, if your generator has a shelter, make sure it is wide enough to keep the ground dry when it rains. You can go further by placing the portable generator on a car tire (without the rim) that you don’t use anymore. The rubber tire would act as an insulator for the power generator.
Lastly, ensure that the shelter you keep the generator in isn’t flammable and won’t trap carbon monoxide.
Some of us tend to back-feed the power generator. Back-feeding happens when the power generating unit is plugged into an outlet such as the ones near your kitchen counter or where you usually plug in your pressing iron.
If this is how you send the generator’s power into your apartment, you’re setting yourself up for a disaster as the electricity is heading in the wrong direction.
You’ll likely end up damaging your TV or other appliances when you back-feed your portable power generator.
In addition, back-feeding will send out power to power lines within the neighborhood which can be fatal to the personnel working to repair the lines.
The best way to send power to the house is by using a transfer switch rather than back-feeding. You should have the transfer switch installed before using your portable generator.
Be sure that it is installed by an experienced professional electrician accurately. When done correctly, you’ll be able to easily switch the load from the electricity power discos to your generator and vice versa.
This way, you won’t risk damaging your essential appliances, or electronics or endangering your home altogether.
There are two types of transfer switches, automatic and manual. Automatic is preferable because it switches when it senses that a power source has been gained or lost.
Refill fuel when turned off and cooled
Never pour gasoline or petrol into your portable power generator while it is turned on. Aside from the fact, that the unit would be hot and combustible, they might conduct electricity and possibly, lead to electrocution.
Additionally, avoid pouring fuel into a power generator when it is still hot, even if it is not turned on. Generally, generators tend to heat up pretty fast after prolonged usage.
Thus, they’re likely to ignite the petrol or gasoline while being poured into the tank. You surely didn’t purchase a power generator only to end up in the burn unit of a hospital.
So, be sure to have the unit properly cooled before refilling the tank. Also, keep items that off-gas flammable fumes far from your portable generator. This includes items like cleaning products and solvent-based paints.
Finally, avoid placing any other materials that can easily catch fire near your generator. Materials like rags soaked in solvents, paper, plastic, dry grass, etc., should not be anywhere near your portable generator.
Having a standby portable generator as an alternative power source has to be one of the most essential luxuries to have today. You don’t have to fear blackouts, power outages, and grid failures.
However, running a generator can come at a steep price if you don’t obey the safety tips that come with using one. So, be sure to adhere to the safety tips discussed in this article before using your power generator.