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How to safely use a generator during a storm

Here are the steps to properly use a generator if a storm knocks out your power.

NORFOLK, Va. — With stormy weather caused by Hurricane Ian's arrival expected on Friday, power outages are a possibility for many in Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina.

With power outages comes an increase in people using generators. But in addition to keeping some of those lights and appliances on in the home, danger also comes with using generators.

Here is a list of ways to help stay safe when using a generator. 

1. Keep the generator dry

It might be tempting to use a generator right after a storm hits but it's best to keep it off while the rain passes and dries up. Using a wet generator could lead to electrocution, according to the Red Cross. The Red Cross says it is best to use a generator on a dry surface. Do not touch a generator with wet hands.

2. Keep the generator outside

One of the most important things to know about owning a generator is knowing to run it outside. The Red Cross says to keep generators outdoors, away from doors, windows, and vents that could let carbon monoxide (CO) inside. 

Installing a battery-operated CO detector in your home can help with potential poisonings. 

3. Do not touch engine parts when the generator is on 

Once the generator is on do not touch it. Touching an engine part while the generator is one can result in severe burns. If a generator needs a replacement or repairs it is best to contact a qualified technician, SECO Energy says. 

SEO Energy says it is extremely important to keep children away from a running generator. 

4. Check the cord before using 

It is important to check the generator cords before using them. Generators are not used all the time, so wires can become damaged. SECO Energy says to replace any damaged cords with something heavy-duty. SECO Energy recommends testing out a generator before hurricane season. 

5. Do not overload a generator 

Overusing a generator can cause a fire. Plugging in too many cords can overwhelm the machine and damage it. 

It is also important not to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, the Red Cross says. This can be known as "backfeeding" and it can put utility workers, neighbors, and your household at risk for electrocution. 

Also remember, if your power is out or if you see downed lines, you should report it to your power company.  You can call Dominion Energy at 1-866-DOM-HELP to report outages. You can also get alerts on your cell phone by texting "DOM" to 898-366.

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