CPSC Winter Warning: Use Portable Generators Outdoors Only

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to consumers confronted with ice storms and severe winter weather: When there's a power outage, exercise caution when using portable generators.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer, CPSC says, because you can't see or smell it. A generator's exhaust contains poisonous CO which can kill people in a matter of minutes. Last year, at least 65 people died from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after winter storms knocked out power.

CSPC offers these important generator safety tips:

  • Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed, or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. And keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows, and vents.
  • Read the label on the generator and the owner's manual, and follow the instructions.
  • Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.
  • Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak, or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.

Last year, CPSC mandated a new danger label on generators manufactured after May 14, 2007. The label states that, "Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."

CPSC has additional rulemaking underway on generators.

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