When a power outage strikes, the last thing you want to do is drive around looking for an open gas station to buy fuel for your portable generator. Nearby retailers may be affected by the outage and unless they have their own generators operating, they won’t be open for business.

Have your fuel on hand and ready to use in an emergency, rather than looking for an open gas station to buy it.

Gasoline Storage Tips

Photographer Jim Occi captured these photos of gas lines in Cranford on Thursday following Hurricane Sandy.

Photographer Jim Occi captured these photos of gas lines in Cranford on Thursday following Hurricane Sandy.

Store gasoline in approved containers only. Portable containers typically hold five gallons or less, are red in color, and are specifically designed for storing gasoline. Local fire codes usually permit you to store up to 25 gallons of gasoline.

Safety Tip: Never fill a generator when the engine is running or when it is hot. Always shut off the generator and allow it to cool before filling it. A spill on a hot engine can quickly turn into a fire or explosion when the spilled fuel ignites.

Use a gasoline stabilizer for long term storage. Add the stabilizer to the container before you fill it so that it is well mixed. The stabilizer will extend the life of gasoline up to 12 months.

Do not fill containers completely. Each five gallon container should be filled with no more than 4.75 gallons of fuel. This allows for air space in the container, which allows the gasoline to expand and contract as the temperature changes. The gasoline in a container can expand dramatically in the summer heat and the container may split or burst as a result if it is too full.

Keep containers of gasoline well away from gas water heaters, furnaces and other sources of flame. The best place is outside the house in a garage or shed where there are never open flames or sparks. Don’t store containers directly on concrete since it may cause the container to deteriorate. Keep the storage area well ventilated.

Always remove the fuel container from your vehicle and place it on the concrete to fill it. Static electricity on the container can jump to the metal nozzle in the form of a spark and ignite the fuel. By placing the container on the concrete prior to filling, the static electricity is drained harmlessly off the can.

How Much Fuel?

BERGS (Breeze Extended Run Generator System)

BERGS (Breeze Extended Run Generator System) Extended run fuel system provides extra run time for your “suitcase” type portable generator, up to 72 hours.

A 2000 watt generator will operate two or three small appliances and provide some lights, or perhaps one large appliance. At half load, this generator will use five gallons of gasoline in about one day. As generator size increases, so does fuel usage. A 5500 watt portable generator will burn 7 gallons of fuel in just 10 hours at 50 percent load, and usage can easily double at full load to 14 gallons.

Just having enough gasoline on hand is only half the problem. The other half is finding and stocking up on fuel if the outage continues. Have your stored gasoline reserve handy, and keep additional containers ready for filling as necessary.

Aging Fuel

Gasoline ages quickly and after just two months in summer, or four months in winter, it is beginning to change from fuel to a gummy varnish. A fuel stabilizer can extend it’s life for a year or more. It is important not to skimp―follow the manufacturer’s directions for the amount to add.

Don’t try to keep fuel too long. It is a good practice to rotate your fuel supply. Purchase fuel for your generator, add stabilizer and keep it for six to eight months. Then pour it into your car’s gas tank or use it in the lawnmower. Replace the fuel as you use it.

Portable Generators Need Oil

The air-cooled engines found in portable generators, and in standby generators, use oil more quickly than your car, truck or other liquid-cooled engine. Don’t forget to keep oil on hand and to check the oil during extended periods of operation. Other maintenance may also be required. When your generator is operating for days or weeks without a break, it will need oil and oil filter changes, air filters and spark plugs. Put a maintenance kit and extra oil on your list of supplies.