How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators

Carbon monoxide is known as the “invisible killer” due to being an odorless and colorless poisonous gas.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 900 people died between 2005 and 2017 of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators in the U.S. The CPSC states that an average of nearly 80 people die yearly from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by portable generators.

Last year, officials found three people who died from potential carbon monoxide exposure at Michigan’s Faster Horses country music festival. Earlier this year, two people were found dead in their Detroit home, where officials found a generator in the kitchen.

Michigan officials say when it comes to CO poisoning, be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms, especially if multiple people in the same household have them. People are urged to move outside immediately if a carbon monoxide leak is suspected, and to call 911 if you feel sick.

Here are some safety tips when using a portable generator:

  • Operate portable generators outside only, at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or porch.
  • When purchasing a generator, ask retailers if it is equipped with a safety feature to shut off automatically when high CO concentrations are present.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms on every level of your home.

Below are symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death

About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.