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Keep Your Family Safe as Dangerous Storms Spread Across Much of the Country

Release Date: March 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As dangerous winter weather moves across the United States, including blizzards in Western states, tornadoes in Southern states and severe weather in Gulf states, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to protect themselves against carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.

Consumers need to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power.  Many use portable generators and other devices for sources of power and heat, exposing themselves to increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fire.  Poisonous carbon monoxide from a portable generator can kill you and your family in minutes.  CO is called the invisible killer because it is colorless and odorless.  According to the CDC, more than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning.  CPSC estimates there were 78 deaths on average each year between 2015 and 2017 from CO poisoning caused by portable generators.  Follow CPSC’s safety tips below to help keep your family safe:


  • Check that your generator has had proper maintenance, and read and follow the labels, instructions and warnings on the generator and in the owner’s manual.
  • Operate portable generators OUTSIDE ONLY, at least 20 feet away from the house; and direct the generator’s exhaust away from the home and any other buildings that someone could enter.  
  • NEVER operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or on the porch.  Opening doors or windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the buildup of lethal levels of CO.
  • CO poisoning from portable generators can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious before recognizing the symptoms of nausea, dizziness or weakness.


  • Press the test button to make sure CO and smoke alarms in your home are working properly, and replace batteries, if needed.         
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup in your home, outside separate sleeping areas and on each floor of your home.
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside sleeping areas.    
  • Never ignore carbon monoxide and smoke alarms when they sound.  Get outside immediately.  Then call 911. 


  •  Never use charcoal indoors.  Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.  Do not cook on a charcoal grill in a garage, even with the door open.


  • Use caution when burning candles.  Use flashlights instead.  If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.  Never leave burning candles unattended.  Extinguish candles when you leave the room and before sleeping.

Remember, as you deal with the storm’s havoc, stay informed, take action and be safe!

Release Number

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

For lifesaving information:

Media Contact

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Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800

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