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2/24/2014 - Portable generators No. 1 cause of carbon monoxide death


In a handful of generator-related deaths, individuals were using them because their electricity had been turned off by utility companies due to non-payment or dispute over a bill.

In February, it's not unusual for homeowners to experience ice storms, which can be so damaging as to cause widespread power outages. It's during these times that portable generators get a workout, as the resource gives homes the stored energy it needs for electricity.

But the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently sounded the alarms on portable generators, advising Americans to use them properly, as newly released data indicates that they were the leading cause of carbon monoxide deaths between 1999 and 2012.

Robert Adler, acting chairman of the CPSC, recently announced that portable generators were tied to more than 85% of CO fatalities over the 14-year period among incidents not involving fires.

As one might suspect, many of the deaths that occurred were in the winter months. CPSC found that roughly 50% of CO-caused deaths took place between November and February, mainly due to individuals using them after electricity was knocked out by inclement weather, such as icing, heavy snow or thunderstorms. In a handful of generator-related deaths, individuals were using them because their electricity had been turned off by utility companies due to non-payment or dispute over a bill.

Safety officials have warned that using generators in indoor settings can cause death. As such, in 2007, manufacturers were required to place warning labels on them, stating, "Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes," CPSC pointed out.

Each year, many homeowners insurance losses are attributable to CO. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 150 people die each year, on average, stemming from products that emit carbon monoxide. Safety officials and insurers advise policyholders to install a working carbon monoxide in their homes so that this odorless, tasteless gas can be detected when it's lurking.


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