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Henrico firefighter offers tips to run generators safely

With the wintry weather approaching Central Virginia, many people might be buying generators to...
With the wintry weather approaching Central Virginia, many people might be buying generators to use if their power goes out again.(NBC12)
Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - With the wintry weather approaching Central Virginia, many people might be buying generators to use if their power goes out again. However, it could be the difference between life and death for families who don’t know how to properly use a generator.

Doug Reynolds, battalion chief for the Henrico Fire Department, says people need to make sure they’re running their generator outside at least 20 feet away with the exhaust pointing away from their home.

Reynolds says the exhaust can produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if it’s left inside an enclosed space.

“Carbon monoxide is the silent killer,” Reynolds said. “You don’t taste it. You don’t smell it. You don’t see it. It creeps into your home and with the right amounts, it can kill you in five minutes.”

Reynolds also says you should use outdoor-rated extension cords for the generator. He said these can be used to plug into your appliances.

”Still keep those things to a minimum. Try to plug in directly to those cords whenever you can,” Reynolds said. “Try not to split off too many other little extension cords because you can’t run the whole house.”

Reynolds also advises families to not plug their cords running through the generator into their wall outlets. He said this could put your neighbors and utility workers at risk.

“And say there’s a power line down the street where it has been dead. Now, you have energized that line from your house,” he said. “You can injure a neighbor or more importantly when our power line people are working out there on the lines. You want to keep them safe also.”

Reynolds says the safest option is to have a transfer switch for your generator. This will need to be installed by an electrician.

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