By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Having a portable electric generator with you on a backwoods trip can be a lifesaver. Sudden heat waves can be defused with the ability to run your air conditioner. Whipping up a quick meal with the microwave oven sounds good, too.
But with the convenience of portable power, don’t forget the need for caution. Portable generators aren’t without risk. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Carbon monoxide (CO): A single portable generator produces as much carbon monoxide as hundreds of autos. Take in CO and you can be dead in a few minutes, so make sure you keep the generator well away from your rig and keep it well clear of doors, windows and vents. Make sure your RV’s CO alarm is operational, in “date” (they have a working life — check for a label on or in the unit), and has fresh batteries.
Electrical hazards: Keep your generator dry — don’t try and operate it out in the open in the rain. Don’t touch a running generator when your hands are wet. Check your power cord carefully for damage, and make sure all the connectors on the cord set are intact.
Fire hazards: Don’t try to refuel a gasoline generator while operating. Shut it down, let it cool off, then refuel. Be careful how you store the fuel — not inside your rig, of course, and make sure it’s a container specifically designed for gas storage. I know, those nasty “CARB” gas cans are a pain in the neck, but it’s better than getting blown up by “any old thing that will hold liquid.”