The use of portable generators is pretty common around the country. While the generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, they also can be hazardous, posing safety risks. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators reported to the CPSC involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.
It should be noted that when used in a confined space, generators can produce high levels of CO within minutes. When using a portable generator, folks must remember that they cannot see or smell CO. Even if you don’t smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. Danger labels are required on all portable generators manufactured or imported on or after May 14, 2007. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, you must get to fresh air immediately. There is no room for delay. The CO from generators can rapidly kill a person.
It should be noted that CPSC documents are in the public domain. A CPSC document may be reproduced without change in part or whole by an individual or organization without permission. But if it is reproduced, the Commission would like to know how it is used. You can write the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Information and Public Affairs, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814 or send an e-mail via CPSC’s Online Form.
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