How to use a generator safely

As well as offering continuity of power when faults and disruptions affect electricity from the grid, generators also give businesses the opportunity to power up their equipment – anywhere, any time. 

Safety is paramount to operating any electrical equipment. Whether you’re using generators or inverter generators, or you require a portable generator or a large skid-mounted generator – here are five top tips to help you stay safe.

1. Ventilation

When generators burn fuel to produce electricity, carbon monoxide (CO) is released into the air. Often referred to as “silent killer”, this odourless and colourless gas can’t be seen, smelled, tasted or heard. 

Ventilation is therefore critical when using generators. Generators should never be used indoors, in tents, or in any confined spaces – even if the doors and windows are open. 

2. Carbon monoxide alarm

If you regularly rely on portable generators in your workplace or at your worksites, for your safety it’s worth investing in a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm. These alarms are designed to alert users to the presence of elevated carbon monoxide levels and are proven to save lives.

3. Water + electricity?

Generators generate electricity – and as we all know, water and electricity don’t mix. For maximum safety, avoid contact with water and moisture wherever possible. 

Where possible, avoid using portable generators in wet or rainy conditions. However, as generators often replace electricity from the grid when storms and other weather events disrupt service - there are times when using generators in these conditions is unavoidable. In these situations: 

  • Place a piece of dry wood underneath your portable generator and/or position it on a flat, dry surface to avoid the build up of moisture.

  • To protect against rain, erect a canopy to completely cover your generator. Always use an open structure (like a canopy) rather than an enclosed tent, to provide protection without allowing carbon monoxide to accumulate.

4. Cool before you re-fuel

To prevent combustion or gas fires, always turn generators off and allow them to cool entirely before refuelling. This may take 15 minutes or more.

5. Go by the book

Equipment manufacturer manuals provide vital safety information on the use of generators. So if you’re new to using generators – or a particular type, brand or model of generator – read the equipment manual before attempting to fire it up.

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