Your 250v generator could give you more than a shock

Ten boaters have died and ten been badly injured due to fires, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning in recent years, often during the winter months.

And a stark warning issued by the boat Safety Scheme (BSS) says that petrol generators will continue to cost lives and cause misery unless boaters use them correctly.

Gernerator in cabinThe BSS made this blunt statement in light of the fatalities and injuries that have taken place on boats across the UK in recent years. Petrol generators can be seen as critical to some boaters wanting off-grid electrical power, but they generators emit deadly carbon monoxide and need refuelling with highly flammable petrol.

This means they must be never be installed in an enclosed cockpit area (see right) or engine space of a boat. Also generators must never be used on or close to the boat where exhaust fumes could enter the craft and where they can cause injuries or fatalities.

The BSS says that if boaters want to use generators, these three basic practices should be followed –
1. Never install a portable generator permanently or make unauthorised modifications that are not supported by the manufacturer, or proprietary component supplier.
2. Never run generators on the boat, or on the bank near to the boat’s doors, vents, windows and hatches. If you can smell exhaust fumes in the boat, it could mean the cabin is also filling with deadly carbon monoxide.
3. Never refuel any generator anywhere aboard the boat; take it to the bank and ensure you are a safe distance from other boats and potential sources of ignition.

Further advice on staying safe using generators is available on

Thanks to Harry Arnold (Waterway Images), CRT and BSS for information in this report and BSS for images.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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