Portable Generator Preparation
If you have a generator, don’t wait until a storm is almost upon us to prepare it for use. Purchase what you need now. Our pointers below will help you ensure the safe operation of your portable generator:
- Check the power and amperage requirements of the appliances your generator will be running so you’re sure your generator can handle it.
- For homes with well pumps, when power is lost, so is your water supply. Your generator must be large enough to handle the load of the pump, including the starting amps. These homes should install a transfer switch in order to power the pumps.
- Look at the fuel consumption of your generator. Be sure you purchase enough fuel containers and fuel to run your generator for a few weeks. Do not store the fuel indoors or anywhere near your generator.
- If you don’t have the proper extension cords, purchase those and store them with the generator.
- If you don’t have a suitable, safe location for your generator (outside your home and garage where it won’t get wet), build a small generator enclosure in a good location where it can be run when needed.
- Run your generator every two months to make sure it's running properly. Generators that sit for long periods of time with old fuel may not run when needed.
- Finally, consider calling an electrician to have a transfer switch installed in your home so it’s safe and convenient to power your home from the generator when the time comes.
Take Generator Safety Seriously
According to news reports, thousands of people relied on portable generators in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, after that storm portable generator misuse killed at least five people and made dozens others seriously ill.
Follow these safety rules when operating your generator:
- Read the instruction manual that came with your portable generator.
- Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. They generate carbon monoxide, which is odorless and colorless, and will kill you if used in an enclosed area.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home to warn you and your family of potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Put the generator outside in a place where exhaust fumes will dissipate. Operate away from air intakes in a dry area that’s protected from the rain.
- Do not connect your generator directly to your home's wiring. Generators can "backfeed" into the power lines attached to your home. this can increase voltage anywhere on our system and seriously injure or kill a JEA lineman or your neighbor on the same line.
- If you wish to hard-wire a generator to your home, it must be installed by a licensed electrician with an approved transfer switch. This is Florida law!
- Don’t plug a portable generator into an electrical outlet in your home or garage. It can still “backfeed” power into JEA’s utility lines.
- The correct way to use a generator is to connect a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord to it, then connect your appliances directly to the extension cord. Be sure the cord is in good condition (no cuts, frayed wires or missing insulation) and is a 3 prong grounded cord.
- Don’t overload your generator. If you put too many things on the generator, it could seriously damage your appliances and electronics.
- Be sure your generator is properly grounded so you don’t get shocked. Your owner’s manual can help you with this.
- Do not store gasoline to fuel your generator in your house or next to the generator. Also, shut off your generator and let it cool down for 3 to 5 minutes before refueling. And be sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby. NEVER REFUEL THE GENERATOR WHILE IT’S RUNNING!
- Finally, please keep your children away from your portable generator. It will get hot enough to give you – and your kids -- a severe burn.
JEA wants you to be ready and safe when a disaster strikes. Proper handling and operation of your portable generator is a big part of that.