A local fire department is getting the word out to help keep people safe when using portable generators this winter.

In an emergency situation, a portable generator can offer lifesaving benefits, especially while the weather is as frigid as it has been. They can be used for keeping the lights and refrigerators on, or even as a secondary heat source. As winter weather is keeping temperatures low, the Hartland Deerfield Fire Authority is sharing these tips to help keep users of generators safe. Only use generators outdoors, away from open windows, vents, and doors. Refrain from operating one inside your house, a crawl space, or even the garage. Running one too close to your furnace’s fresh air intake vent can result in exhaust being drawn into your house. Fire Chief Adam Carrol cautions people to take special care while fueling a generator. Fuel should never be added while the generator is running, and engines should be allowed to cool for at least 2 minutes before starting the process. Gas and gas cans should be stored away from the generator, tightly capped.

Carroll also recommends annual inspections of fireplaces, furnaces, and chimneys. If using extension cords, make sure they are grounded and rated properly for their application. Uncoil cords and lay them flat as leaving them coiled can cause them to overheat and potentially start a fire. If connecting to your home’s electrical system, never plug the generator into a home outlet. Instead have a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch for use. These tips, along with adhering to the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance guidelines can keep your home and family safe from the risks using a portable generator may cause. (MK)