When the power goes out at your business, it can cause a panic due to sudden halt you will need to take on normal business operations. However, if you have a generator, you can supply your office with enough electricity to keep the lights on, phones running, and computers connected to the Internet. While this is beneficial during a blackout, you should also be aware of the dangers. Many of them can be protected by educating yourself on safety precautions.
Types of Generators
There are two main types of generators for small business use: portable and standby (permanent). The portable generators are more common for small companies and less expensive, but also require refueling several times if you have an extended power outage. Permanent generators don’t need to be refueled but they will be significantly more expensive.
Dangers of Generators
Using a generator can supply your business with electricity, but it is also associated with a variety of dangers and bodily injury. For one thing, the generator produces engine exhaust that can cause carbon monoxide leakage. If the generator is not used properly, someone in the office could get carbon monoxide poisoning. When not in a well-ventilated area, the generator can cause dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and more serious health complications in some cases. Fluids near the generator could cause a fire to break out which can escalate very quickly. Fuel used in the generator also increases the risk of fire, as do overloaded power cords.
Safety Tips for Generators
The National Safety Council and the National Fire Protection Agency has provided the following generator safety tips for small businesses.
- Refrain from plugging a portable generator directly into an outlet of your business office. A Power Transfer Switch should be installed by a licensed electrician.
- Never touch the generator without wearing protective gear. Keep debris away from the generator to avoid a fire.
- Before refueling your generator, make sure it is turned off and let it cool down completely. Keep the fuel in a proper container and away from the generator’s location. This could increase the risk of a fire.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before operating the generator.
- Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to improve the safety of the generator.
- Never operate a generator in wet conditions; if your business has been compromised by a flood, rain, or snow, don’t use the generator.
- Keep extension cords grounded and avoid coiling them.
- Never keep the generator near combustible or flammable materials.
- Keep the generator away from doors, vents and open windows, or better yet, keep it outside.
- Have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector installed in the area where your generator will be located.
- Only use extension cords that are heavy duty and meant for outdoor use. They should also be appropriate for the level of voltage and amp load your generator needs.
By following these safety tips, you can avoid fire and other complications from using your generator. Even if you follow these generator safety tips for small businesses to a “T”, it’s important to be covered by adequate business insurance.