CPSC Warns - Never Use Charcoal Grills Indoors

January 15, 1999
Release Number: 99051

Across the U.S. this winter, snow and ice storms have caused the loss of electrical power to hundreds of thousands of homes. Because of this, some people could be tempted to use a charcoal grill indoors. This can be a deadly mistake, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Each year, there are about 20 deaths from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and about 400 emergency room treated injuries from CO poisoning resulting from charcoal grills. Charcoal produces CO when burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. To reduce these CO poisonings, CPSC is offering the following safety tips:

- Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

- Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

In April 1996, CPSC revised the label on charcoal packaging to more explicitly warn consumers of the deadly CO gas that is released when charcoal is burned in a closed environment. The new label reads, "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." The new label also conveys the written warning visually with drawings. The new label requirement became mandatory on all packages of charcoal filled on or after November 1997.

CPSC also recommends that every home should have at least one CO alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories 2034 standard or International Approval Services 6-96 standard.