Carbon monoxide deaths increase in severe weather season

KSNF/KODE — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers in the path of severe weather threatening our area (particularly during the spring months) to protect themselves against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fires.

The CPSC said consumers need to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power.

Many people use portable generators and other devices for sources of power and heat, exposing themselves to increased risk of CO poisoning and fire.

CO is called the invisible killer because it is colorless and odorless.

CO poisoning from portable generators can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious before recognizing the symptoms of nausea, dizziness, or weakness.

The CPSC estimates more than 80 consumers die each year from CO poisoning caused by portable generators.

Consumers who plan to use a portable generator in the case of a power loss should follow these tips:

  • 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.
  • Check that portable generators have had proper maintenance, and read and follow the labels, instructions, and warnings on the generator and in the owner’s manual.
  • When purchasing a portable generator, CPSC urges consumers to look for and ask retailers for a portable generator equipped with a safety feature to shut off automatically when high CO concentrations are present around the generator. Some models with a CO shut off feature also have reduced emissions; consumers should look for those models as well.

To help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and fires, make sure CO and smoke alarms at home are working properly, by pressing the test button and replacing batteries, if needed.

Never ignore an alarm when it sounds: Get outside immediately, and then call 9-1-1.

For more information on carbon monoxide positioning, you can visit the CPSC’s website HERE.

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