When the power goes out, having an emergency generator sure does come in handy -- but only if you know how to use that emergency generator well! If you're not overly familiar with your generator or how to use it, turn to these tips for help.
Move it far away from your house.
Even if it is cold outside and you don't want to be out in the cold, you need to place the generator as far from your home as you comfortably can. Fifteen feet away is good. Twenty feet away is even better! An emergency generator burns either propane or gasoline, and in either case, it released carbon monoxide. This poisonous gas does not have an odor, so if it leaks into your home, you won't know until it makes you feel sick. Carbon monoxide has been known to kill people unexpectedly, too. Placing the generator far away from your home reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stock up on fuel.
When the power goes out, you are not the only one affected. Many other people will be without power and may also need fuel. This can lead to shortages. So, be sure to keep fuel on hand all of the time in case of an emergency. If the power does go out and you don't have enough fuel to get you through, be prompt about buying it -- and buy more than you think you need, since there may not be any left if you have to come back!
Only hook up the essentials.
Emergency generators have a rather limited capacity. Chances are, yours cannot power your whole home. Choose the appliances that are necessary, and plug them into the generator. Your refrigerator and freezer should be plugged in so that food does not spoil. You should plug in a space heater if it's so cold outside that you can't stay comfortable without it. Plug the lights of a few rooms in, though there's no need to plug all of them in since you can spend time in just a few rooms until the power goes on.
Use heavy duty extension cords.
When running cords to the generator, make sure you use a 12-gauge cord. Other, thinner cords may short out and may even present a fire hazard. These 12-gauge cords can be expensive, but if you look out for sales, you can get a good deal.