Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that may be released by appliances such as heating systems, cooling systems, or certain types of generators. CO is odorless, and it is nicknamed the “silent killer.” It does not offer any warning for its victims. The “silent killer” may incapacitate or kill a fully-grown adult within minutes. Since portable gas generators became popular in 1999, carbon monoxide deaths have risen steadily. From 1999 to 2011, at least 755 American citizens have died as a result of CO poisoning. Portable gas generators make up the largest portion of non-fire CO deaths in the United States.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the completion of a technological study that it coordinated with the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the University of Alabama. They are suggesting methods to make portable gas generators safer for consumers. These methods will increase the amount of escape time for CO victims from 8 minutes to 96 minutes. Escape time is the amount of time between the first CO poisoning symptoms and actual incapacitation of the victim, which frequently leads to death.
The methods suggested by the CPSC, NIST, and University of Alabama can be accomplished by adjusting the control technology that is already in use on many small motorcycles and motor scooters.The recommended adjustment will allow the portable gas generators to release less CO gases while they are running, which would make the equipment safer and could save lives.
Regardless of portable gas generator usage, it is important for families to install CO alarms near bedrooms and on each level of their house. Much like fire alarms, CO alarms are vital to ensuring your family’s safety because they detect dangerous gases and alert people when there is a problem. CO alarms are particularly important because CO, unlike smoke, cannot be smelled even when awake. Approximately 93% of CO deaths occur in places without CO alarms.
Portable gas generators are used by many Floridians during hurricane season. When the power goes out, they might use the generators for electricity. This helps families keep their lights, refrigerators, or air conditioning units running while the electric companies fix broken power lines.
Regardless of where you live, it is important to understand the proper usage of portable gas generators. Consumers should never run portable gas generators in garages that are attached to their homes. The units shouldn’t be used in sheds, within homes, or near homes, such as outside a window or vent. Even with the new technology suggested by the CPSC, the generators are not safe to use in confined spaces. Always be sure to allow for plenty of ventilation, and use portable gas generators far away from buildings.