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Preparing for hurricane season: How to choose the right generator

Experts encourage everyone, including people who live in apartments, to buy generators as long as they have safe spaces to run them.

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida's Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs through June 6th, letting you stock up on hurricane supplies tax-free.

One of the biggest ticket items you may pick up is a generator. 

Many homeowners purchase generators in case power goes out after a storm to keep their electronics running, food refrigerated and their homes cool. If you live in an apartment or condo, you should also consider purchasing a generator, as long as you have a safe space to store and run the generator.

Kris Kiser, the CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, says you should not run generators near open doors or windows, in breezeways or on patios if possible. Power generators create carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can kill a person in minutes. 

He offers some other advice for purchasing and using your generator:

  • Buy your generator in advance. Many people will try and buy one after the power goes out, but it's better to purchase yours early so you avoid the lines and get a generator that is right for your needs.
  • Calculate the power you need before choosing your generator. "The size of the generator is power you need. It's easy to find. If you want to run your TV, your air conditioner, you can add all that up," said Kiser. Look up the wattage for your appliances and find a generator that can handle the capacity.
  • Buy extension cords that match the wattage and power you need and make sure they're long enough to run from the generator outside into your home.
  • Make sure your generator is being run at least 20 feet away from your home, away from any open doors or windows. Point the exhaust away from your home and never run it inside an enclosed space.
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector and place one near every sleeping area in your home. Check their battery status often.
  • 'Buy and burn' your fuel. "If your fuel is more than 30 days old, buy fresh fuel and a stabilizer which is very inexpensive. It will stabilize it in a hot, humid environment like Florida or a marine environment near water. Pour the old fuel into your car or lawnmower, it still will work fine there," said Kiser.
  • Test your equipment before you need it. If a storm is coming in, test your generator and stock up on fuel a few days before the weather starts to pick up.

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