You must look over your home and decide if you want to invest in a generator. It could be more hassle, expense and danger than it is worth. In most cases you can't run your air conditioner on it.
Terms like amps and horsepower are meaningless to most people. Ask the dealer specifically how many watts the generator will put out and for how long and how big a load it can handle.
You could spend around $350 for a simple 2,400-watt model, $600 for 5,000 watts or thousands for an industrial-strength model. A television uses 300 watts, a freezer 330, a water heater 3,000. Compare brands and models. Dealers can provide manufacturers' toll-free numbers for technical questions.
Make sure you have the right cords and connectors. You don't want your generator sitting useless.
An auxiliary fuel tank is a good idea. Don't fill fuel tanks until right before the storm; keeping a lot of fuel in a hot garage all summer isn't safe.
Most starters use rope pulls, but if yours uses a battery, make sure it's kept charged.
The time to buy is not after the storm. While most stores will be selling at a fair price, none will be having a sale. Some will be closed or destroyed. Out-of-state people are likely to bring generators on the back of trucks and sell them for whatever you'll pay.
Connect items with electrical cords directly to generator. Make sure cords are not damaged and don't lie in water.
Don't connect the generator to your home's wiring system. If wires are damaged or wet you can be electrocuted or start a fire. And power can travel through supply lines, electrocuting people in adjacent homes or crews restoring power. If you're determined to connect to your wiring system, consult an electrician inadvance to make sure you have the proper transfer switch; this will keep power from backing up into the power lines or into other homes.
Never operate a generator inside a home. Keep it outside, ventilated, but out of the sun. Excess heat can cause fuel to explode or flame up.
Never overload generators. The instructions will tell you the maximum load.