From hurricanes to tornadoes, a generator can help your family recover after powerful storms
But before you pull yours out, or decide to buy one, you need to know the safety warnings.
Every time a devastating storm hits anywhere in the country, Paul Gangloff gets calls at the generator supply company he owns, Riverside Electric.
"We've noticed our business has picked up 300 percent in the past year," he said.
Company president Krista Mahon says many people ask about portable generators due to their budget-friendly pricing.
"The portables can range anywhere from $400 dollars all the way to $1200," she said.
But she warns that budget models often struggle to power more than a refrigerator and some lights.
"People tell us it bogged down, or the lights dimmed.," she said. " I have to explain that it is because it is too small a unit for your home."
Mahon says more homeowners are now buying whole house standby generators like the Generacs that they sell.
They are powered by natural gas or propane, unlike gasoline, and start-up automatically. They will also power your home's central air conditioning.
Cost? $8,000 and up, installed, with all switches and connectors to your home electric panel.
But if you are thinking of buying, or already own, a portable generator, the most important thing before you turn it on is your family's safety."
Nicolette Nye with the Consumer Product Safety Commission says 85 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, on average, linked to portable generators.
She says opening doors and windows isn't enough to protect you, and that it is important to keep generators out of basements, crawl spaces, garages and even car ports.
"You want it running at least 20 feet away from the home or structures that people can enter, with the exhaust pointed away from your home," she said.
Another common and deadly mistake, she said, is refueling a portable generator with gasoline while it's running.
"Stop the engine, allow it to cool down first," she said.
To use a generator safely, the CPSC says:
- Close doors and windows in the exhaust path.
- Follow all the warnings listed in the user manual.
- Look for portable generators that shut off automatically when high levels of CO gas are detected.
Most importantly, install CO alarms on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas.
"Interconnected co alarms are the best so when one sounds, they all sound," Nye said.
Krista Mahon says generators can save food and keep you connected after a big weather event.
"You can plug into whatever you need to use," she said,
As always don't waste your money.
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