In the Carolinas, when the thunder rolls and the lights go out, a generator can help keep you and your family comfortable through the blackout. Whether or not you keep a backup generator, these are some things you can do to stay safe during a power outage.
What to Do During a Power Outage
Power outages cause more than the inconvenience of not using electricity. Losing power can be dangerous—from damaging your devices to affecting the safety of your refrigerated food. When the power goes out, follow these power outage safety tips to keep you and your family safe and prevent damage to your home.
- Keep food cold. During a power outage, food safety is essential. It does not take long for food to spoil when it is not kept at a safe temperature. If you keep the door closed, your refrigerator can keep food safe to eat (below 40°F) for four hours. The freezer can keep food safe for 24 hours when half full and unopened, or 48 hours if full. If the electricity has been off longer than that and you’re unsure if the food is still safe, play it safe and toss it.
- Keep the power on with a generator. Installing a generator is a game changer for power outages. Depending on the size, you can continue as though the electricity was still on—running lights, heating or air conditioning, refrigerator, washer, etc. Even when the temperature outside may be unsafe for your family and you would otherwise need to seek a warm or cool shelter, with a generator, you can stay warm or cool at home.
- Protect your family from carbon monoxide (CO2) poisoning. During power outages, people have turned to portable generators, gas or charcoal grills, and other camping devices for heating or cooking. Unfortunately, these devices give off dangerous amounts of CO2 that could cause injury or death. To keep your family safe, only use gas or charcoal-fueled devices outdoors in well-ventilated areas.
- Prevent fires and electrical surges. To keep your delicate devices safe from damage from surges of electricity, remove the plugs from the sockets. Even if your home is equipped with a surge protector, there is a chance the sudden flow of electricity could cause damage when the power comes back.
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What’s the Difference Between Portable and Whole Home Generators
Despite the obvious differences of being portable or stationary, these two types of generators also have different limitations.
- Size and capacity. Whole home generators are larger and more powerful than portable generators. They can run large appliances, such as heaters or air conditioners, while portable generators can normally only run essential electricity to keep the lights on.
- Power source. Generators may use natural gas, propane, or diesel for fuel. A portable generator will have its own fuel tank. Refilling this tank can be dangerous because oil spilt on the hot machine can cause fires. For that reason, it’s important to allow the machine to cool before refueling. Alternatively, whole home generators connect to your home’s natural gas line or propane tank, allowing them to draw fuel as they need.
- Distance from the home. Portable generators are known for releasing dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide and the machine must be at least 20 feet away from any doors or windows. The chance of fumes leaking into a confined area and causing carbon monoxide poisoning is high. Whole home generators do not give out the same amount of exhaust but are still required to be installed outside.
Protect Your Home with a Whole Home Generator
With a portable generator, you can run the necessities until the generator runs out or the electricity comes back. With a whole home generator, you can stay safe and comfortable, running appliances as normal.
- Stay comfortable. A whole home generator allows you to run your heater or air conditioner to stay safe and comfortable. You can also keep the lights on, preventing trips or falls, or fires from fallen candles. And you can still use the stove to cook dinner.
- Protect your plumbing and AC lines. With sharp temperature drops, the sensitive coolant lines for your air conditioner, as well as uninsulated pipes can be susceptible to damage. When your home is equipped with a backup generator, you can prevent sharp temperature fluctuations in your home and keep your plumbing and AC safe.
- Preserve medicine. Blackouts can be especially dangerous for those that need temperature-sensitive medicine. The refrigerator can only keep it cold for so long without electricity before it starts to warm. With a whole home generator, you can rest easy knowing your medicine stays at a safe temperature.
- Keep the water running. Electric water pumps are great for keeping water in your faucets. But when the electricity goes out, so does the water—unless you keep a backup generator.
Prepare Your Home to Stay Cozy through the Next Power Outage
A cozy home is a treasure—especially when the wind is howling outside. When the power goes out, having a whole home generator to turn to can make the entire experience better.