Special Events and Celebrations

Plan ahead for special events that include electrical equipment and large generators. It's the law!

Special requirements for large events

You'll need to file an ESA notification of electrical work four to six weeks before your event. An ESA inspector may need to review the electrical work. And your local municipality may need other permits.

Electrical safety tips for celebrations, large or small

Are you powering a public address system for speeches and music? Want to set up a large event tent? Are you plugging in twinkle lights or using portable heaters after the sun sets? Follow these electrical safety tips to avoid an accident that could spoil the fun.

Event tents and decorations

  • Before moving and setting up a tent, first look up and look out for powerlines! Remember, you don’t have to touch the powerline to get shocked, burned or electrocuted. Even coming too close could cause electricity to jump or ‘arc’ through the air to the tent pole or other equipment. This could seriously injure or even kill you.
  • Never install a tent or other equipment directly under powerlines. Place tents at least 4.8 metres (horizontally) away from powerlines.
  • When using a ladder to put up decorations, banners or lights, always look up first for powerlines. Carry your ladder horizontally as you move around the yard or event location.
  • Keep yourself, tools and high reach equipment at least three metres away from all powerlines.

Portable generators

  • Size matters when it comes to portable generators – choose one that meets the needs of the equipment you want to power up.
  • Generators larger than 12 kilowatts or 240 volts must have an electrical notification. An ESA inspector must also review the electrical work. Call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) at least a week before your event to arrange this.
  • You do not need an ESA inspection for generators that let you plug electrical equipment directly into its outlets.
  • Water and electricity don’t mix! Set up your portable generator in a dry, well-ventilated outdoor area.
  • Generators produce poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Keep the generator away from your event tent. Also keep it away from open doors, windows and vents of the house or other nearby buildings.
  • Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Let the generator engine cool at least two minutes before refueling. Always use fresh gasoline.

Extension cords

  • Choose the right extension cord for the job. Use three-prong (grounded) cords rated for outdoor use.
  • Plug in safely. Plug extension cords into an outlet protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shocks. You can buy portable GFCI-protected outdoor power bars at most home improvement retailers.
  • Extension cords are rated to deliver a specific amount of power. Make sure the one you choose is rated for the amount of power your equipment needs.
  • Don’t coil the cords. Coiled extension cords can become very hot and may cause a fire.
  • Secure cords to the ground to prevent tripping hazards or damage to the cord.
  • Look for the product certification mark on extension cords and all other electrical equipment. This shows they’ve been safety tested and approved for use in Ontario.

Outdoor heat and light

  • Lights and heaters inside an event tent should be well away from the tent fabric to avoid a fire. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific requirements.
  • Choose products approved for where you’re planning to use them – indoors, outdoors or wet locations.
  • Look for the product certification mark on lighting and heaters. This shows they’ve been safety tested and approved for use in Ontario.