YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Thousands of people across south-central Pennsylvania are still without power after Monday’s storm. Some of them are using home generators for the first time ever, just to keep the lights on.
However, generators carry risks if not used properly.
Christoper Boyer, the fire chief for Rose Fire Company No. 1 in York County said, “People don’t realize or understand that they need to keep the generator away from their house, not inside a garage or inside the residence.”
Using a generator close to home runs the risk of a carbon monoxide leak, mainly because most generators are gas or diesel-powered.
“We had an incidence last night around three o’clock where a CO leak happened into a house generator, fumes ended up getting into the house and causing a CO issue,” Boyer said.
Other risk factors include having debris around a generator, such as tree limbs or dead grass. These materials are flammable and can catch fire if a generator overheats.
Another risk factor is refueling the generator while it’s powered on, as the fuel can overheat and potentially splash back on the person and cause burns.
Boyer also recommends not to overuse a generator. “After a certain amount of hours, give it a cool-down period,” he said.
Generators can also impact people financially. Residents across York County are visiting their local gas stations to fill jugs of gas for their generators, some spending almost 50 dollars. FOX43 spoke to some residents who say this is the first time they’ve had to turn on their generator.
“We personally have not used a generator before,” says Mia Eberly, a Glen Rock resident.
Likewise, Carla Schneider and her husband Bob didn’t plan to use their generator so early in the year.
“We didn’t think we’d have to use it until the winter and here we are in the summer, you know it’s very unexpected,” Schneider said.
Boyer said that residents typically use generators sparingly throughout the home.
“Commonly, people are just trying to keep their refrigerators, freezers, and fans going to keep their houses cool.”
Power is expected to be restored late Thursday. In the meantime, Boyer recommends people use their generators until then and encourages residents to access generator safety tips produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“If you have it, use it, but use it safely and correctly,” Boyer said.