Weather power outages with safe use of generators
Posted February 11, 2014
Updated February 13, 2014
When ice build ups on power lines and trees, they come down and the power often goes out.
Generators can help get essential electricity flowing again.
Before you crank one up, you should know they can quickly produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause loss of consciousness or death.
Generators must be placed outside and at least 15 feet from your home with the exhaust pointed away. The same goes for charcoal and propane grills and heaters: Use them outside only.
Generators also come with electrical dangers that many people don't realize. The machines must be kept dry, so they need to be covered when it's raining or snowing.
Don't connect a generator directly to your circuit box or try to power the house wiring by plugging the machine directly into a wall outlet. Known as "backfeeding," it can create an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors.
For those who have had a generator just sitting in the garage, experts say it won't run if the gas is old. The gas should be replaced every six months.
Also, generators work best with a gas stabilizer, and they use 8 to 22 gallons a day.
If you lose power:
- Preserve cell phones batteries by closing apps not in use and lowering the screen brightness. Only use WiFi if necessary, and send text messages instead of making calls.
- Gather extra batteries for flashlights and skip open candle flames to avoid a potential fire.
- Use gas or wood fireplaces for heat and light. Never light a charcoal grill indoors.
- Keep the refrigerator closed. Foods will keep safely for about four hours in a closed fridge and about 48 hours in the freezer.
- To report a power outage, call 1- 800-POWER-ON or 1-800-419-6356 for Duke Energy Progress. If available, you'll get information on when the power is expected to be restored to your location.