Portable Generators Key in Preparing for Winter Power Outages
’Tis the season for winter storms, high winds, heavy snow, and freezing rain. Already in the last two months of 2016, thousands were left without power from California to the Midwest to New England as a result of weather events. How long power failures last depends; you may be without power for a few hours, a few days or longer.
“Weather can’t be controlled but homeowners and businesses need to be aware of the importance of emergency planning before a weather emergency. A family communications plan, a preparedness kit and a portable electrical generator on hand when it will be needed most is a big part of such a plan,” said Dorrance Noonan, CEO of A-iPower, a manufacturer of portable power equipment. “Generators can keep the lights on, food cold, pump water, and run essentials such as cell phones, televisions, laptops, sump pumps and well pumps.”
Portable generators come in many models with power levels to fit a variety of applications. Noonan advises when choosing a portable generator, homeowners should look for these features:
Enough power. Choose a generator with enough wattage output to power the appliances you’ll need in an emergency. Look for continuous running watts rather than surge wattage ratings.
Sufficient electrical outlets. A portable generator should have enough receptacles for the devices a homeowner wants to run. Models that include a multi-outlet cord offer greater convenience.
Run time. Look for a generator that will run through the night on a single tank of gasoline for greater convenience.
Portability. Choose a generator equipped with wheels and handles
When the power goes out, a homeowner’s first thoughts are to get the lights back on as soon as possible. As with any connection to a voltage supply source, caution is urged. Noonan advised that when using a portable generator; observe the following important safety rules:
If you have recently purchased a generator or it’s been a while since you’ve used one, reacquaint yourself with generators features and operating instructions.
NEVER run a generator inside the house or a garage. Running engines give off carbon monoxide fumes, which can be lethal. Think of a portable generator like your car, and run it in a well-ventilated area, not a closed space where fumes can accumulate.
Install and test battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms and learn to recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness and fainting. If you experience any of the above, immediately get outdoors and call 911 for emergency medical attention.
Never back-feed your home’s electrical wiring system by using a cord with two plugs. This can be dangerous to you and your neighbors and deadly to a lineman. Either plug appliances directly into the generator with power cords that are in good condition or have an electrician install a certified transfer switch.
Be careful when refueling the portable generator. It is best to allow it to cool down between fills.
Have an Emergency Preparedness Kit Ready
Although a portable generator can keep your home running during an emergency, there are other things need to be considered when severe weather strikes.
Government emergency management offices provide information on what to put in an emergency supply kit. readily accessible, comprised of the following:
- Canned foods and a can opener.
- A three-to-five day supply of bottled water – at least one gallon per person per day.
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags.
- First aid supplies.
- Batteries for radios and flashlights.
- Extra generator fuel and extension cords.
- A weather radio to receive emergency information.
- An emergency kit in the car containing food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, and blankets. Top off the tank before the storm hits.