OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!

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Middle schoolers wanted for poster contest!

Calling all middle schoolers!  CPSC is hosting a poster contest on carbon monoxide safety. CO20ContestBrochure

Have you ever heard of carbon monoxide? CO is a poisonous gas. It’s also called the invisible killer, because you can’t see or smell it, and it takes the lives of many people each year.

You can get CO poisoning from:

  • A car left running in the garage
  • The gas furnace in your home not functioning properly
  • A portable generator running in an enclosed space, basement or living area
  • A charcoal grill used inside your home

What can you do to prevent CO poisoning?

  • Make sure your parents have a professional inspection of your furnace, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances every year.
  • Have CO alarms in your house.
  • Never use generators or charcoal grills inside your home.
  • Draw a poster about the dangers of carbon monoxide and what you can do to prevent CO poisoning and enter it into CPSC’s contest at www.cpsc.gov/COContest!!

You can WIN prize money. CPSC will award $500 to the top 10 finalists (three from each grade and one winner of the public vote) and another $1,000 will go to one lucky grand prize winner. Students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades can enter.

Want to know more? Check out our contest at www.cpsc.gov/CO. Watch our video for more info too.  Vote for your favorite poster. Draw a poster, save a life, win a cash prize! The contest runs through February 2015.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/08/middle-schoolers-wanted-for-poster-contest/

CPSC Infographic: Portable Generator-Related Deaths

Blog en español

This infographic is also posted on CPSC’s Flickr page for easy sharing.

portable generator death information

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/02/cpsc-infographic-portable-generator-related-deaths/

Winter Weather Alert: Generators

Update: Jan. 6, 2014: Winter weather and extreme cold have been crossing the U.S. If you lose power, keep portable generators outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors. See below for more safety information. If you use a space heater to stay warm, follow these tips.

First Posted: Dec. 6, 2013

Dangerous ice and snow is sweeping across the plains, south, and heading east.  There are expected to be widespread power outages associated with this large storm.

Are you planning on using a portable gas generator to help you during or after the storm this week?

When dealing with severe winter weather and power outages some people take unnecessary risks. Do not take extra risks with your generator. It can be deadly. (Take a look at this infographic to see just how deadly.) Its invisible odorless CO exhaust can kill you and your family in just minutes.

Be safe. Put your generator:

  • OUTSIDE! Keep it at least 20 feet* away from windows and doors.
  • Do NOT put generators in garages or basements. An open door does NOT provide enough ventilation to save you from deadly carbon monoxide gas.

When you use a generator, be sure to have a working CO alarm in your home. (Note: You should do this anyway.)

Finally, know the initial symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness.

Get outside into fresh air quickly and call 911 immediately. Know what to do.

* Minimum distance recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s more information on carbon monoxide.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/01/winter-weather-alert-generators/

Replace Your Smoke Alarm and CO Alarm Batteries This Sunday

Blog in Spanish

Who doesn’t love fall Time Change Sunday? We get an extra hour. What are you going to do with your newfound time?

Here’s a thought: When you wake and find yourself with that extra hour, change all of the batteries in your smoke and CO alarms. Talk about time well spent.

Yes, it’s that important safety time of year, when we government folks, along with fire and other safety officials around the country, recommend that you spend some time focused on safety. There’s good reason for this, as these alarms save lives. Remember, they can only do their job if you do yours.

It’s simple:

When you do this:

Clock showing 2'o clock with arrow to clock showing 1 o'clock

Take a few moments to do this, too:

Hands inserting a new battery into a smoke alarm

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2013/10/replace-your-smoke-alarm-and-co-alarm-batteries-this-sunday/

Be Safe: Check Your Home Heating

Blog en español

Two women are reported to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning recently in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.  The newspaper reports that a faulty boiler is suspected. Elsewhere, in Oxford, Conn., a man reportedly died due to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) found in a home where he was housesitting. The dogs in the house died, too. (Connecticut Post, 1/30/13).

These reported deaths are just two of the regular, tragic reminders we see that carbon monoxide is a killer. In fact, CO is called the “invisible killer,” because you can’t see, smell or taste it. Don’t let this happen to you.

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home is to:

  • Have fuel-burning home heating appliances – your furnace, chimney, water heater, etc. – checked by a professional every year to make sure they are working properly.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside bedroom areas.
  • If you use a generator when the power goes out, keep it outside, far from windows and doors. Do NOT use a generator in your garage.

Carbon-monoxide deaths are more common than you might think. According to a new CPSC report:

  • There were an average of 169 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths each year between 2007 and 2009.
  • 1/3 of the deaths were associated with carbon monoxide from heating systems, such as furnaces.
  • More than 40% of carbon-monoxide deaths are from using generators, such as operating them in a garage or basement, which is extremely dangerous.
  • Most CO deaths occur in the colder months of the year: November, December, January and February.

In addition to carbon monoxide risks, space heaters also need to be handled with extra care to prevent unintentional fires. Space heaters are associated with an average of 100 deaths each year between 2008 and 2010.

Just last week, local fire officials reportedly blamed space heaters for fires at homes in Portsmouth, Va. (via Fox 43-TV) and Bristol Township, Pa. (via PhillyBurbs.com).

  • When you use a space heater, follow these safety tips:
  • Turn the space heater off when you go to sleep or leave the room.
  • Keep the space heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including curtains and furniture.

Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedroom areas and inside each bedroom.

Look for additional life-saving information in CPSC’s Carbon Monoxide Information Center.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2013/02/be-safe-check-your-home-heating/