Backup generators are useful for their ability to provide short-term electricity and light in the event of a power outage caused by weather-related incidents, natural catastrophes or blackout. This is especially useful to prevent flooding in the basement even if the electricity goes out. Determine the type of generator you need (home-standby, portable or inverter generators). Assess the type of backup appliances you and your family absolutely needs to have during a power outage and determine the type of generator that is appropriate to fulfill those needs.
Considering that portable generators, powered by gas, are internal combustion engines whose sole function is to generate electricity, never use a portable generator indoors to avoid accidental carbon monoxide exhaust. Other hazards posed by portable generators are shocks and electrocution due to improper use of power and fires from improper refueling of a generator. Therefore, it is prudent for homeowners to familiarize themselves with safe generator use.
When purchasing a generator, make sure not to overload the generator. Therefore, determine the amount of power you will need to operate the things you plan to connect to the generator (i.e., light bulb wattage, appliances, and equipment).
Never operate a portable generator in an open garage. Keep the generator at least 15 -20 feet from the house to prevent any carbon monoxide exhaust from entering the home (and the neighboring home).
Do not connect a portable generator with a power cord directly to an electrical outlet in the house. Doing so may harm or potentially kill a utility crew when power is restored in the neighborhood or electrify a house’s branch circuit, causing fire/shock hazards.
Instead, use a heavy-duty extension cord to plug appliances directly into the machine. You can also use a single cord and connect the generator to a power transfer switch, which requires a qualified electrician to install but is the only safe way to connect a generator.
Keep the generator dry to avoid electrocution. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure and make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
Keep in mind that gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive. Allow room in the fuel tank for fuel expansion. Overfilling the tank can overflow into the heated engine and cause a fire or explosion. Remember to allow the engine to cool entirely before adding fuel. Do not store a generator with fuel in the tank where gas vapors may reach an open flame or spark.