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NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
|Office of Information and Public Affairs
||Washington, DC 20207
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2003
|CPSC Consumer Hotline: (800) 638-2772 |
Media Contact: Ken Giles, (301) 504-7052
FEMA Media Contact: Lara Shane
CPSC and FEMA Warn: When A Storm Knocks Out Power, Don't Risk Carbon
Monoxide Poisoning by Using Gasoline-Powered Generators Indoors
D.C. - When disaster strikes and the power goes out, many Americans turn to
their gas-powered generators for heat and electricity. But when they set up
those generators inside, a second disaster may strike - carbon monoxide
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have joined forces to warn residents
not to use gasoline-powered generators or charcoal grills indoors or in attached
garages because of the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. "If you want to
use a gasoline-powered generator when the power goes out, set it up outside in a
dry area, away from air intakes to the home," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton.
"And never use a charcoal grill inside because you risk being poisoned by deadly
carbon monoxide. Opening doors and windows or operating fans to ventilate is
inadequate and unsafe. Even with a CO alarm, you should never use a gasoline-
powered generator or a charcoal grill inside. "
"People often turn to
substitutes like gasoline-powered generators when storms, floods and other
natural disasters interrupt power services," said FEMA Deputy Director Mike
Brown. "In preparing for disasters, it is critical for people to identify and
know the proper way to use generators."
CO is a colorless, odorless gas
produced by burning fuel. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to
the flu, and include dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and irregular
breathing. Exposure to high levels of CO can cause death. CO poisoning from
fuel-burning appliances kills more than 170 people each year. Others die from CO
produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent. Still
more deaths happen when cars are left running in an attached garage.
"Every home should have a CO alarm that meets the most current safety
standards," advised Chairman Stratton. Those standards are: Underwriters
Laboratories 2034 (second edition 1998); International Approval Services 6-96
(second edition 1998); or Canadian Standards Association 6.19-01
FEMA and CPSC also warn about CO hazards when gas ranges are used
to heat homes. In addition, to prevent fires, space heaters should not be used
while you are sleeping and should be kept away from flammable materials and
turned off when the consumer leaves the room.
Bags of charcoal are
labeled to warn about the hazard of burning charcoal indoors. The labels say:
"Warning! Carbon Monoxide Hazard. Burning charcoal inside can kill you. It gives
off carbon monoxide, which has no odor. NEVER burn charcoal inside homes,
vehicles or tents."
Emergency management officials also suggest that
other options to consider when power is interrupted from storms include checking
into hotels or staying in designated shelters.
For more information on
safe use of generators, read this CPSC publication: www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/portgen.html
can also view a video clip
about gasoline-powered generators and CO poisoning (transcript). This is in "streaming video" format.
Soundbites of CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton are also available here (in WAV format; about
1.5 megabytes in length) on gasoline-powered generators (transcript).
Spanish of CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton are also available here (in WAV format;
about 2 megabytes in length) (transcripción) on