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Hurricanes can be deadly for many reasons. Some deaths will be caused by portable generators. Most people are not aware that a portable generator can produce several hundred times the carbon monoxide (CO) produced by a motor vehicle. Warnings on generators are inadequate and at times misleading. As a result, deaths cause by portable generators significantly increase after hurricanes and other natural disasters. Deaths caused by generators have been on the rise ever since the sale of generators increased due to concerns about Y2K. Most of these deaths are preventable.

Generator manufacturers typically blame generator related deaths on the user of the generator. Companies that manufacture generators need to take their responsibility to those that purchase their products more seriously. It is not that people who use these products want to get sick or die. The problem is that most people don’t understand the risks of CO poisoning. Generator companies have done a poor job of protecting their consumers from a danger that the generator companies know about, but the public does not comprehend. Most people who are injured or killed from carbon monoxide produce by a generator have place the generator in a location that they believe to be safe. These locations include basements, garages, adjoining rooms, car ports, and even outside. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been studying the dangers posed by generators. Here are some things manufacturers can do to reduce the risk of CO injury and death.

  1. 1. Improve the warning labels on generators to better educate the consumer,
  2. 2. Decrease the amount of CO emitted by generators,
  3. 3. Put an automatic shut-off devices on the generator, and
  4. 4. Provide CO detectors to customers who purchase generators.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes the following recommendations for portable generator users.

    • CO from a generator is deadly and can kill you in minutes. One generator produces as much CO as hundreds of cars. It can incapacitate and kill consumers within minutes.

    • NEVER use portable generators indoors or in garages, basements, or sheds. They should always be used outside well away from windows, doors, vents, or any other opening.

    • Always have a working CO alarm in your house.

    • Also, never burn charcoal grills indoors, even with ventilation. Charcoal also quickly produces deadly CO.

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