Back up your backup with knowledge of
proper operating and safety procedures
a floor pla n
By Will Fifield
BACKUP GENERATORS can literally and
figuratively save your bacon when storms or
rolling blackouts temporarily knock out electrical service to your home. But when you
buy a generator, be sure to get one that will
deliver enough power for your needs.
To determine the wattage you will need,
look at the labels on lighting, appliances and
equipment you plan to power with the generator. The data plates on these appliances
For more information about
backup generator safety,
visit the following sources:
United States Fire
American Red Cross
Consumer Product Safety
will usually specify the number of volts and
amps they require. Multiply volts by amps to
get the wattage.
Many appliances list both “run wattage”
and “surge wattage.” As the term suggests,
run wattage is the amount of electricity
required to continuously run appliances.
Surge wattage is the higher amount of electricity required to start electric engines.
Choose a generator that produces more
power than you will actually use because of
the big draw when these devices are initially
turned on. If you get stumped, ask an electrician to determine how many watts your generator should deliver.
While generators can be lifesavers when
your utility power is out, improperly operating
a generator can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, shock or electrocution and fire. The following tips can help you avoid these hazards.
To avoid carbon monoxide
■ Never use the generator inside homes,
garages, crawlspaces, sheds, vehicles or similar enclosed areas.
■ Always use the generator outside and not
near any doors, windows and vents.
■ If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while
using a generator, get to fresh air quickly.
■ Install battery-operated or plug-in (with
battery backup) carbon monoxide alarms in
■ Frequently test carbon monoxide alarms
and replace batteries when needed.
■ Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
To avoid electrical hazards
■ Never plug the generator into a wall outlet.
This practice, known as backfeeding, can create an electrocution risk to utility workers and
others served by the same utility transformer.
■ Keep the generator dry and operate on a
dry surface under an open canopy-like
■ Dry your hands before touching the generator.
■ Plug appliances directly into the generator
or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Make sure the entire extension
cord is free of cuts and tears and that the
plug has all three prongs, especially the
To avoid fire hazards
■ Before refueling the generator, turn it off
and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine
parts can ignite.
■ Store fuel outside in properly labeled, non-glass containers and away from any fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural-gas
water heater in a garage. Local laws may
restrict the amount of fuel you can store and/
or where you store it. C
The Costco Connection
You’ll find 5,500-watt and 7,000-watt portable generators, as well as carbon monoxide
detectors at your local warehouse and a
wide selection of generators at costco.com.
Options to consider
INSTALLING NEW FLOORING is one of the
most dynamic ways to transform the look and
feel of a home, but it’s also one of the more
costly home-décor decisions consumers make.
According to the World Floor Covering
Association ( www.wfca.org), the type of flooring you choose will determine not only the
mood of a room, but how practical it will be.
Because most types of flooring are relatively permanent, the flooring you install
should be tailored to the people who use it.
Here are some pros and cons of five popular
Pros: Will usually last a lifetime. Easy to
clean. Warm colors. Coordinates well with
almost any décor. Usually easy to repair when
Cons: May scratch or dent. Easily damaged by moisture (not recommended for
bathrooms); color can fade over time. Requires
Pros: Realistically simulates wood and
other natural materials. Extremely durable.
Easy to clean. Can usually be installed
throughout a home. Easier for homeowners
to install, depending on general home-improvement skill level. One of the more
affordable flooring options.
Cons: Quality varies greatly, depending on
manufacturer. Tends to be noisy. Though more
durable than wood, may scratch or dent.
Pros: Wide variety of styles, patterns, colors, textures and sizes. Can achieve different
looks and feels through installation techniques. Moisture resistant. Easy to clean.
Cons: Grout lines can stain if not properly installed. Costly to change design or color
scheme. Usually requires professional installation. Should be resealed regularly. Cost varies greatly, depending on the type of tile.
Pros: Wide variety of styles, patterns, colors and sizes. Water resistant. Tends to be quiet