Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer, and portable gas generators emit a lot of CO. Portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools from 1999 through 2012. At a carbon monoxide safety event in Chicago today, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Acting Chairman Robert Adler announced that a new agency report finds that portable generators were linked to more than 85 percent of non-fire CO deaths associated with engine-driven tools, or 800 out of 931 deaths, during that 14-year period. Most of the deaths have occurred since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and a series of winter ice storms hit the U.S.
CPSC’s report also found that African Americans died at nearly twice their proportion of the population. CPSC staff found that 23 percent of generator-related fatalities involved African Americans. African Americans make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Men of any race were most likely to die from CO poisoning from generators, accounting for 73 percent of the deaths.
Most of the generator fatalities, or 74 percent, occurred at fixed-structure homes. Many of these incidents involved generators that were operated in the home’s living space.
Portable generators have fuel-burning engines. Engine exhaust contains high levels of poisonous carbon monoxide, which can be fatal within minutes if used...