Power outages are more than just annoying. They can be very costly and if they continue for days, your home could become uninhabitable. Folks in rural areas are most at risk. They typically are left without power for the longest time and roads leading to their homes are often at the bottom of the list to be cleared.
A little advanced planning and financial investment will prepare you for winter weather and prevent the stress involved in last minute preparations when severe storms are in the forecast.
A small inexpensive portable generator is sufficient for most households to ride out the occasional outage. You can power your refrigerator to prevent food spoilage and other essentials. Most portable generators cost between $500. and $800. Carbon monoxide gas poses the greatest risk when using a portable generator. A portable generator should never be used inside your home, basement or garage. Each year numerous people die due to carbon monoxide gas from portable generators. While it may seem like common sense to not operate a generator in an enclosed area, many people think that having a window or door open will allow sufficient ventilation. Some old generators stall out and cut off frequently when exposed to the weather. Some people bring their generator indoors to prevent the generator from being stolen or because a long cord will cause some power drop.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping your portable generator at least 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows. You should also use CO detectors near all sleeping areas inside your home to alert residents before carbon monoxide reaches poisonous levels.
To protect your generator from weather, operate it on a dry surface and under an open, canopy-like structure. The same rules apply to cooking with portable, propane stoves. Take time now to prepare a location and purchase the items you need to safely operate your portable generator and avoid being another statistic of a preventable tragedy.