Prepare for power outages with these lifesaving generator safety tips

Many tri-state residents are installing or using portable generators during the storm season, or to prepare for the potential of future storm-related outages.

Portable generators can be a lifesaver during power outages, but when used or installed improperly they can be extremely dangerous.

The following six safety guidelines from Nassau County can help when installing or using a portable generator:

1. Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces. This includes garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Opening windows will not help.

2. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home and recognize signs and symptoms of CO poisoning, which includes dizziness, headaches, nausea, and tiredness. If you or someone else should experience these symptoms, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.

3. Only fill generators with fuel when the generator is turned off and cool. Fueling a hot generator can cause vapors to ignite. Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool. Fuel cans should be stored and transported in approved vented containers marked with their contents. Filling gas cans must be done on the ground and not inside of a vehicle or the bed of a truck, with the vehicle turned off.
4. Generators should have at least three feet of clearance on all sides and above to ensure adequate ventilation. Watch out for the exhaust of your generator that the fumes do not come back into your home or the home of a neighbor and are kept away from fresh air intakes.

5. If you are powering your home, make sure that a licensed electrician installs the equipment. Your electrical service main should be set to the off position. Do not create a condition where you feed power back into the grid and potentially seriously injure the same electrical utility workers trying to help you.
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6. Keep generators out of the rain and avoid creating static electricity around them, especially when fueling the tank. All generators should be grounded. Connect to a grounding rod, then to the generator frame itself, with a grounding cable or suitable copper wire.