Many New Englanders have generators for when the power goes out because it's important to be prepared -- but it's also important to keep in mind safety tips to prevent fires, CO poisoning and electrocution.
Massachusetts' State Fire Marshal recommends you consider the following when buying and preparing to use a generator:
- Buy one that's been approved by a nationally recognized testing agency, such as Underwriter's Laboratory (UL)
- Get a licensed electrician install a "transfer switch" and never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet
- Install working CO alarms on every level of the home
- Read all of the instructions before you use the generator
Safety officials recommend keeping the generator about 5-10 feet away from the home, and never inside of a home, basement, crawl space or garage -- even with the garage door open. The generator should face away from doors, windows and vents. It's also important to keep the generator dry, and allowing the generator to completely cool before refueling, because fuel spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Officials also recommend plugging appliances directly into a generator or using heavy-duty extension cords while not exceeding the number of outlets on the generator.
As for fuel, safety officials say you should store gasoline in a shed or a detached garage away from the house, and never inside the home or an attached garage. They also recommend securing the shed or garage if possible, and keeping fuel out of the reach of children. Gasoline should also be stored far away from burning appliances such as furnaces, water heaters and/or woodstoves, because vapors can ignite.
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