March 16-22 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. And, rightfully so, because as the days inch their way toward spring, it is important to be prepared for any potential flooding that may arise with the change in temperatures. While we hope it will not be an issue for us this year, it is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. One way you can ensure your home is equipped for spring flooding is by investing in a standby generator that could be useful in the event of a power outage sparked by flooded electrical equipment. Standby generators allow you to keep your lights on and your essential appliances running smoothly in the event of an emergency outage.
Whether you already have a standby generator or you plan on getting one, it is critical that you exercise cautions when utilizing generators to ensure you and your family are protected. Fortunately, we have compiled several important tips to follow to ensure your generator is a solution to a problem and not a problem in itself.
First, check the fuel supply of your generator and charge the battery if it has one. A non-working generator isn’t much better than a lack of a generator altogether. Also, be sure when refueling your generator that the engine is cool. This helps prevent a potential fire if the tank overflows.
Next, run your generator under load for several minutes to ensure it is functioning appropriately. If you notice issues, schedule a maintenance appointment to have it fine-tuned before getting too far into the spring season.
Finally, once you have determined your generator is functioning properly, follow safety guidelines when using it, including:
- Keep the generator in a well-ventilated area and remove any debris that collects around it. Do not operate generators in confined spaces like garages, as they can produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if exposed in a poorly ventilated area.
- Avoid using your generator in an area where it can be exposed to water by keeping under a canopy on a dry surface above any puddles or water build-up.
- For permanent standby systems, have a qualified electrician wire your generator into your home using a transfer switch that will protect your family, neighbors and lineworkers from electricity backfeeding onto power lines.
- Do not connect portable generators directly to your home’s outlets or electrical system. Instead, use extension cords to plug appliances into outlets located on the generator.
- Make sure your generator is properly grounded for safety reasons.
- Avoid overloading your generator and only use it to power essential appliances.
- Make sure nothing is plugged into the generator before turning it on and be sure to turn off all equipment powered by the system before shutting your generator down.
- Keep a fire extinguisher near the generator in case of emergencies.
- Do not fuel your standby generator while it is running.
- Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions that apply to your specific model of standby generator when grounding and operating your device.