The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of the United States issued a new report today on carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning deaths linked to portable generators. The CPSC also released a new public service announcement (PSA) emphasizing the hazards of portable generators.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's new report, Fatal Incidents Associated with Non-Fire Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Engine-Driven Generators and Other Engine-Driven Tools 2011-2021, approximately 85 consumers die in the United States each year from CO poisoning caused by gasoline-powered portable generators. According to the report, African Americans are at a higher risk, accounting for 23% of generator-related CO deaths, nearly doubling their estimated 13% share of the US population. Most generator deaths (81%) occur in residential areas

The CPSC study also discovered that among the reported fatal incidents, the top three reasons for using a generator were weather-related power outages, power shut-offs, and attempts to provide power to temporary locations such as cabins, campers, and trailers.

One portable generator emits the same amount of carbon monoxide as hundreds of cars, demonstrating how gasoline-powered portable generators can pose a risk of CO poisoning, which can kill in minutes. There is also a Spanish version of the public service announcement. CO is known as the "invisible killer" because it has no color or odor. CO poisoning from portable generators can occur so quickly that exposed individuals may become unconscious before recognizing symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or weakness.

Customers who intend to use a portable generator during a power outage should follow these guidelines

Loss of Power—Using a Generator Safely

● Never use a portable generator inside a house, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed, or porch

● Operate portable generators outside only, at least 20 feet away from the house, and direct the generator's exhaust away from the home and any other buildings that someone could enter, while keeping windows and other openings closed in the generator's exhaust path

● Ensure that portable generators have been properly maintained, and read and adhere to all labels, instructions, and warnings on the generator and in the owner's manual

● Look for portable generators that shut down automatically when CO levels are high. Some models with CO shut-off have lower emissions as well. These models may or may not be advertised as being certified to the most recent portable generator safety standards, PGMA G300-2018 and UL 2201, which are estimated to reduce CO poisoning deaths by 87% and 100%, respectively

 CO and Smoke Alarms Save Lives

● Install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup on each level of your home, as well as outside separate sleeping areas

● Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, as well as inside each bedroom

● Check CO and smoke alarms monthly to ensure they are operational and replace batteries as needed. When an alarm goes off, never ignore it. Get outside right away


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