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Get plugged in: How to's for safe use of your portable generator

by Kimberlee Craig | Dec 19, 2019

Portable generators are an important tool for many Chelan County residents if the power goes out, especially for folks living in remote areas where outages can last longer.

These systems can keep the power flowing to critical appliances in your house – like an electric water pump or refrigerator. But, if not used right, portable generators pose a big danger for your family, your neighbors and Chelan PUD line crews.

Here’s how to safely run your generator while PUD crews work to restore power to your home.

Select the right generator for your needs

Check the wattage required for the appliances you plan to power during an outage (on name plate or owner’s manual) to make sure your generator can support each of them. Only use heavy-duty extension cords that are rated for both outdoor-use and the right amperage required for your appliances.

Operate in a safe, well-ventilated place

Exhaust from generators contains high concentrations of carbon monoxide – a poison that cannot be seen or smelled and can kill you in minutes.  Never place your generator inside the house, in a garage or carport, or any partially enclosed area where fumes will build up. Instead, find a location that is as far from your home as possible (at least 10 feet) and point the exhaust away from any nearby doors or windows.

Plug appliances into the generator

DO NOT plug the generator into an electrical outlet in your home or through the electrical panel unless you have a professionally installed transfer switch. Without this switch, the generator will “backfeed” through your meter and into the neighborhood, causing a severe safety hazard to neighbors and line workers.

Practice setting up and running your generator

Use the owner’s manual (yes, really) and these tips so you know exactly what to do when the power goes out. 

And don’t forget – the safe use of a portable generator is just one part of being prepared for a power outage.  Make sure to have extra food (pet food, too), water, flashlights, batteries, medications, and any other supplies your family will need to get by until power is restored.

For more power outage information and safety tips, visit www.chelanpud.org and click on the “Outage” button on the home page

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Outages or Emergencies

Visit our Safety and Outage Center for information, or to report an outage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-877-PUD-8123.

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