Warning to Storm Victims: Do Not Use Gasoline-Powered Generators Indoors Because of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

January 13, 1998
Release Number: 98056

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning storm victims that gasoline-powered generators should not be used indoors, because of the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Deaths from CO poisoning have occurred in New England after last week's ice storm.

CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "If people use gasoline-powered generators indoors, they could die from CO poisoning. Opening doors and windows or operating fans does not guarantee safety."

CO poisoning from the use of fuel-burning appliances kills more than 200 people each year and sends about 10,000 to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent. Still others die from CO produced by cars unintentionally left running in attached garages.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, and include dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and irregular breathing. High level exposure to CO can cause death.

"CPSC recommends that consumers use gasoline-powered generators outdoors to prevent CO poisoning," Brown said. "And every home should have at least one CO detector that meets the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories standard 2034 or the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard."