Generator Safety during a Power Outage

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

WAYNESBORO, Va -- When Tom Claiborne, a power equipment specialist at Home Depot, tells you about how to safely use a generator, he is speaking from experience.

“I grew up on the coast. I've been through hurricanes. I've been through tornadoes. Preparation is the key. Be careful and think,” said Claiborne.

Everyone knows to read the owner's manual, but Claiborne said there are some things that are a little more advanced. Things that may cause your generator to work harder and potentially cause a fire. He suggested using shorter cords.

“If you plug in your extension cord, 25-foot cord up to your refrigerator, what happen is the refrigerator kicks on, it causes a strain to your generator which is eventually going to make it break.”

He also suggested making sure that cord you are using can handle the load your generator puts out. Using the wrong one could be just as dangerous as using one that is too long.

“Keep your lines running with as strong a cord as you can to get the power there. You don't want to start a fire by over loading your system. Know what your generator's capable of.”

Claiborne said most importantly, never use your generator indoors.

“Any small engine is going to produce carbon monoxide so you can't run it inside. It's not even recommended to run them in your garage. Keep them outside.”

Another tip to reduce the strain on your generator if you use it on a fridge or freezer, charge it and remove it from the power. A full freezer will hold the temperature for up to four hours. You can use your generator to power other things during that time. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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