Seattle, Washington (NAPSI) - In the last two years, one in every four homeowners has experienced a power outage lasting 12 hours or more, averaging more than $1,900 in property damage, according to a survey by Harris Interactive, but you don’t have to be among them.

Here’s how: You can join the increasing number of homeowners who invest in backup power solutions and portable generators to keep the power on and avoid the costs and inconvenience of power outages.

Kinds Of Generators

Portable generators work well as an immediate solution during an emergency power outage and can power a wide range of essential items, such as a refrigerator, a TV and selected lights. Portable generators are also useful for camping or tailgating.

For a long-term solution, however, backup power generators, also known as standby or home generators, are professionally and permanently installed and use a home’s fuel source (liquid propane or natural gas).

Standby generators turn on using an automatic transfer switch, usually less than a minute after a power outage occurs, and can power more of a home’s appliances.

What To Do Through The Year

These season-by-season tips from Briggs & Stratton on using generators can help you be prepared all year long.

Spring: Prepare for power outages by establishing an emergency plan for your family that includes a backup power source. Get advice from a professional and remember permanently installed home standby generators require professional installation that is best completed in warmer months.

For portable generators:

• Run real-world tests for starting and running your generator so you know exactly what to do in an emergency, how to safely place your generator during use and how to test your CO monitor.

• Ensure that the battery is charged if you have an electric starter.

• Perform factory-recommended maintenance according to the operator’s manual.

• Stock up on items you may need for your generator during a storm, such as extra oil, filters, fuel, gas cans, heavy-duty extension cords and plugs.

Summer: Whole-house generators turn on automatically and the status of some models can even be monitored by a mobile device, so there’s less to think about from an operational standpoint.

Portable generator safety tips:

• Don’t run a portable generator inside the house or garage or near doors, windows or vents as exhaust contains carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas that causes illness and death.

• When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to it. Don’t connect the portable generator to your electrical system.

• Turn off your portable generator and let it cool down before refueling so spilled fuel doesn’t ignite on hot engine parts.

• Keep portable generators away from children’s play areas, swing sets and other equipment and set up on level ground.

Fall: Consider upgrading to a standby propane generator or natural gas generator, which needs to be professionally installed before the ground freezes.

Portable owners should check their CO monitor and perform manufacturer’s recommended generator maintenance and safety inspection to confirm their backup power source is in top running condition.

Winter: While home power generator owners benefit from the unit’s automatic weekly test cycle to ensure it’s ready to operate when needed, it’s still important for snow to be cleared from around the unit outside.

Portable generator owners should:

• Test their generator every month.

• Restock any items they may need to run a portable generator during a storm.

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