Portable electric generators provide power to almost all food trucks on the road today, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly.
To keep yourself, your employees and your customers safe, The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers a helpful list of recommendations and taking the following precautions:
- Contact a licensed electrician to install your generator to make sure it meets all local codes. Do not connect generators directly to your mobile kitchen equipment without an appropriate transfer switch installed.
- Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
- Inspect the generator regularly and contact the nearest authorized dealer for parts needing repair or replacement.
- Do not overload the generator. A generator should be used only when necessary and only to power the essential equipment or appliances on your truck.
- Never operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces to monitor levels. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
- Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
- Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
- Electricity is a powerful tool. It can also be a lethal hazard. Better safety standards have reduced electrical hazards that cause deaths, injuries and property damage. But good safety habits are still the best prevention against electrical hazards.
- Do not store extra gasoline for the generator in your vehicle. Outside of the fact that gas fumes can cause headaches, the vapor from gasoline is heavier than air and can travel invisibly along the floor. It could be ignited by a pilot light or other source of flame, such as an electric spark.
- Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator.
- Before re-fueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
- Read the owner’s manual before you operate the generator. If you’ve lost the manual, contact the manufacturer for another copy. You can often download the manual from a manufacturer’s Web site. Keep the owner’s manual with the generator in a zip-lock bag to keep it dry.
- Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation. Stay away from the muffler and other hot areas.