Having access to a generator after a world changing event can be of great use to you and your family. Generators can be used to power a lot of different devices, although only a few at the same time. Even so, those few things may be all you need to restore a sense of order or even comfort to your world turned upside down.
There are a few things to keep in mind when owning and using a generator. While they are beneficial to have, that only applies when you gave the gas to power them. Stocking up on gas before you need it is essential if you expect to be able to power a generator for any reasonable amount of time. Also important is rotating that gas; since gas can go bad if left to sit for too long, periodically empty gas cans into vehicles and lawn mowers then replenish those cans with fresh gas. Keep in mind, too, how much gas you will need to maintain power. If you have someone in your care with medical needs or devices that require power, having enough gas needed to power a generator is much more significant. Since it is not possible to predict how long you will need to rely on a generator and thus how much gas you need, try taking it for a trial run. Choose the devices you need to power and hook them up for an hour. Calculate your fuel usage during that time and multiply that by the amount of time you want/need to keep a generator running to arrive at an estimate as to how much gas you will need.
Be careful where you park a generator when using it. Generators are loud, create heat, and must exhaust themselves by breathing harmful carbon monoxide into the air. Inhalation of carbon monoxide can be harmful or even fatal to people and pets. If a generator is too close to something, the possibility of damage also exists. This could be through melting objects, discoloring them, or even starting fires. To be safe, give your generator space.
Remember that while having a generator is beneficial to you, not everyone will have thought ahead and made the same preparations. Because of this, your generator will be extremely valuable to the criminal element or people who get desperate. This means safeguarding your generator from theft as well as the gas you purchased to run your generator as that is also of significant value when the SHTF. Since you cannot keep your generator indoors and expect to run it safely, the best plan of action is to invest in a good length of heavy chain and some padlocks. A generator running right next to a tree is unsafe, but chaining your generator to a tree from a distance is feasible. Wrap that chain around the base of your generator and padlock it firmly into place, then take the length of the chain and wrap it around a tree or something else of equal sturdiness. Heavy chain is not fool-proof but it is not easy to circumvent either. After Hurricane Katrina, we were forced to chain a generator to a vehicle bumper due to many people trying to lay hands on it. While this worked, it did a number on the paint on that vehicle, so repeating this is not advised unless you get desperate. Some people swear by creating generator housing with something such as chain link, but chain link has little stopping power against someone with tools and determination.
Generators are one of those things it is better to have and not need than need and not have. Being able to run your refrigerator long enough to consume its contents will go a long way towards preserving your stored food items and preventing unnecessary waste. If medical needs are present, such as diabetics who need to keep insulin cold, running that refrigerator becomes even more significant. In extreme heat or cold, running a single room heating or cooling unit could prevent you from freezing to death or experiencing heat stroke. Generators are expensive as is stockpiling the gas needed to run them, but there are some expenses that you may not wish to spare. Everyone has a unique set of needs and if a generator is one of yours, start putting away money to buy one now. Watch for sales and check pawn shops. You never know when you might come across a lucky break, acquiring the generator it may take to get you through your darkest days.