Power to the people

A generator can help you stay cool, calm and connected during a power outage after a hurricane.

If you’re going to stay for a hurricane, you’ll need to be prepared for weeks of sweltering humidity without electricity, so having a reliable generator can help you stay cool, calm and connected.

Many Galveston County residents who stayed during Hurricane Ike were without electricity for three weeks or more.

A generator, in addition to powering phones, computers, refrigerators, air conditioners, fans and lights, is the ideal way to help you sleep in the county’s suffocating heat and humidity.

The first step to buying a generator involves precisely calculating how much electrical current you need to feed the appliances you just can’t live without.

There are generators that power entire households, or those with just enough juice to make coffee next to the cool breeze of an electric fan. The only obstacle is how much you’re willing to pay.

For reliability, Honda offers several high-end models, but be prepared for sticker shock. The company’s 2,000-watt generator, which sells for $1,079, can power a refrigerator, heavy-duty fan, lights, computer equipment and charge cellphones — all at the same time.

Daily News staffers used the same model, purchased a week before Ike’s landfall. The generator kept staffers connected after the storm.

Generators must be turned on only outdoors, because the carbon monoxide gas it emits can be deadly if breathed in enclosed spaces, including garages. The fumes are also a known carcinogen.

Experts warn against using one on a balcony, near open windows and screen doors. Take care that you position your generator so that it doesn’t poison your next-door neighbor.

Some generators can be used in the rain but must be kept out of standing water.

Using a heavy-gauge electrical cord ensures proper electrical flow, especially when powering appliances that require more electricity than others. You’ll want at least 50-foot cords and electrical strips with several outlets, because the farther you have a generator from an open window or door, the better.

Lastly, using fresh fuel to power the generator is a must, because condensation can corrupt the fuel, fouling your generator and leaving you in the dark. There are gasoline additives that extend the life of stored fuel.

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