Hurricane Awareness Week: Tips on using a generator safely

Options to keep the power on after storms knock it out
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:17 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - When hurricanes and tropical storms head to Virginia, so do memories of power outages. So more and more people are preparing for the worst by getting generators before the storm so they can keep the electricity on.

Whole house generators are the best solution. When the power goes out, they kick on, giving you full (or mainly full) use of your home. But that can be pricey, from $8,000 to $14,000. Piece of mind isn’t cheap.

There are cheaper options. For $500 to $3,500, you can get a portable generator, allowing you to run extension cords where you need power like for a phone charger, clothes washer, or refrigerator. But if you do that, you have to be safe!

“A lot of people inadvertently put it in the garage, trying to keep it covered. They are meant to be outside. You want to keep it so the exhaust stays away from the home,” Tanya Hale said.

Also, you shouldn’t try to feed power into your house through a dryer outlet. When you do that, you could put the power crews at risk. That’s because when a generator is improperly installed, it could back-feed into the power company’s lines and anyone working on that trunk of lines can get a major injury. The safe way? Hire an electrician to install a transfer switch. That lets you pick and choose which circuits to use - safely!

The ice storms of Feb. 2021 were a rude awakening, sometimes mother nature can overpower the grid.

But there are lots of options, and with many of us working from home during the pandemic, keeping the lights on is more important than ever.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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