One portable generator may emit the same amount of CO2 as hundreds of automobiles. The CPSC emphasizes the risk of producing backup power.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a caution to consumers who rely on portable generators for backup power: Portable generators fuelled by gasoline provide a danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, which may kill in minutes.
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The warning comes as the USA experiences record-breaking extreme weather conditions, high temperatures for example, which can ignite wildfires and increase demand for electricity to power air conditioning. It is applicable all year.
The Report’s Generator-Linked Carbon Monoxide Findings
According to the CPSC study, “approximately 85 consumers die in the United States each year from CO poisoning caused by gasoline-powered portable generators.” It goes on to indicate that about 81% of the deaths happened in domestic settings.
The study found that, among the households reporting fatalities, the three top reasons for generator use were weather-related power outages, power shutoffs and providing power to temporary locations like cabins and campgrounds. The report cites poor ventilation as an important contributing factor.
According to the analysis, a single generator emits as much carbon monoxide as hundreds of automobiles. Because CO is odorless and colorless, it is possible to inhale a lethal dosage and lose consciousness before experiencing poisoning symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and weakness. CO inhalation kills hundreds of people silently each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How to Use a Generator Safely
The most important conclusion from the CPSC study is to always utilize a portable generator with sufficient ventilation. There are two main guidelines to follow:
- Never operate a generator indoors, including a garage, outbuilding, or tent.
- Keep the generator at least 20 feet away from the home, away from doors and windows.
When it’s raining, it might be tempting to operate a generator on a porch or in an underutilized portion of the home. Don’t. According to Generac, a prominent generator manufacturer, proper ventilation in an enclosed environment is difficult, even with all windows open and a fan running.
If you must use a generator during heavy rain, place it beneath the overhang of a shed or garage roof, as far away from windows as feasible. You could alternatively put it under a table or construct a temporary roof with four pillars and open sides. Never place a generator under a tarp or in an enclosed environment.
The CPSC Study Includes Further Safety Guidelines for Generator use:
- To reduce emissions, keep the generator in good working order. Cleaning the air filter before each usage, topping up the oil, cleaning or changing the spark plug on a regular basis, and following all safety guidelines in the owner’s handbook should all be part of routine maintenance.
- Buy a generator that has an automated CO shutdown. According to the CPSC research, models that meet the most recent safety criteria can avoid 87 to 100 percent of CO poisoning deaths.
- Install CO detectors that are battery-operated or hardwired with a battery backup on each level of your home and in all sleeping spaces. CO detectors should be tested periodically, batteries should be replaced as needed, and the warning should never be ignored when it sounds.
Additional Generator Safety Recommendations
Operating a gas-powered equipment to create electricity is inherently dangerous, so read and comprehend all of the safety recommendations in your owner’s handbook. In addition, keep the following safety precautions in mind:
- Prevent gas spillage. Never overfill the tank, and never add gas while the device is operating. Before adding gas, the Red Cross suggests shutting the device off and letting it cool.
- Do not smoke or use lighters in the vicinity of a running generator.
- While the generator is running, avoid touching any part of the motor. The metal is sufficiently hot to burn you.
- Connect appliances to the generator directly or use a heavy-duty outside extension cable rated for the total current draw of all appliances connected to it.
- Do not connect a generator directly to your electrical panel. Allow an electrician to install a transfer switch that disconnects the panel from the grid while the generator is running.