During the winter months, power outages due to excessive snow, ice, and wind can leave your business in the dark. If you have a generator, however, you can maintain a semblance of normalcy even in the worst weather. Using a generator isn't without risks though, and it's important to understand how to safely operate one so no one gets hurt and you don't damage your building or other property. Following are some tips for safe winter generator usage for business owners:
As useful as a generator can be, it can also cause serious harm if you're not careful. Some of the most common hazards of generator use include:
Keeping the lights on and your equipment running is important. However, ensuring that your generator is operated safely should be your number one concern. Here's how to do that:
Consider the type of equipment you'll need to operate and the frequency that you expect to use the generator when making your choice. A small portable generator won't be able to power large, power-hungry equipment, but a large generator may be too much for your needs.
Don't assume that you know how to operate the generator properly. Always read the manufacturer's instructions for proper use of your generator and follow them carefully. If you can't find the hard copy, search online for one.
The last thing you need is a generator that won't work when you need it most. The time to inspect your generator is before a storm or other disaster. Periodically inspect your generator, start it, and run it for a period to test it before you need it.
Pay close attention to the fuel that the manufacturer recommends and never use a fuel that's not intended for the generator. Use fresh fuel, or add a fuel stabilizer to fuel that's more than a month old to ensure it burns properly.
Most generators will operate for several hours on a tank of fuel. When the need to refuel arises, turn off the generator and allow it to cool before you add more.
Generator exhausts produce carbon monoxide, which is a dangerous, colorless, odorless gas that can harm people and animals. Always use your generator outdoors, away from windows and intake vents.
Shock and electrocution could occur if you use a generator in wet conditions. If you must, cover the generator to keep it dry using a tent that's meant for your unit or a generator cover to minimize this risk.
Rather than run an extension cord to an appliance, it's always safest to plug directly into the generator. If you do need an extension cord, make sure it's rated for outdoor use, that it's a heavy-duty cord and is rated to handle the load you'll put on it.
Generators should never be left running without some form of supervision. Frequently check on the generator when in use to make sure it's operating properly, that the cords are connected, and that it has the fuel it needs.
Backfeeding, or plugging your generator into an indoor outlet is extremely dangerous. Not only could you cause damage to the building and your electrical equipment, you could cause someone else to get electrocuted.
If you have questions or concerns about using a generator in your business this winter, please contact us at Power System Services. We will be happy to provide you with information and resources to help keep your business safe and operational, no matter the weather.