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Statement from CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle Regarding Hurricane Harvey

September 01, 2017

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people affected by Hurricane Harvey as well as the first responders assisting those in need. 

Certain dangers caused by a storm, such as flooding and property damage, are obvious. There are other less obvious, but equally as dangerous, safety hazards that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to make sure those impacted by Hurricane Harvey are aware of:


Portable generators can produce high levels of levels carbon monoxide, which is a deadly, odorless, and colorless gas. With Harvey causing significant power loss, many people will be using these products in the days and weeks ahead. Carbon monoxide, an “invisible killer”, cannot be seen or smelled, and it can both quickly incapacitate and kill you. Never use a portable generator anywhere indoors. Portable generators must only be operated outside of any structure and kept at least 20 feet away from the house, garage, windows, doors, and other entryways or vent. Charcoal grills and camp stoves also emit CO and should also never be used indoors.

Be aware of the signs of CO poisoning: nauseous, dizziness, and fatigue. If you start to experience these symptoms, leave right away and get to fresh air immediately.  Then call 911.


Hurricane Harvey has caused downed wires that can be live with deadly voltage. Stay away from such wires at all costs and be aware that downed wires can electrically charge the water. Do not operate or handle electrical appliances that are or have been in standing water. Have a qualified electrician check electrical appliances, circuit breakers, outlets and wiring before using them if they have gotten wet or have been in standing water. Don’t operate appliances while you are standing in water.


Using candles in the absence of electricity can cause a home fire if they are left unattended. Using flashlights or battery-operated lanterns are a much safer option.


If you smell gas, get out. Leave the home immediately and then call 911 from a safe location. Do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone.

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