The Dangers of Generators and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Dangers of Generators and Carbon Monoxide PoisoningIt is likely that you have needed a generator at one point or another, whether because of a hurricane that swept through the area, a bad thunderstorm, or simply something that has gone wrong with the electricity lines in your neighborhood. When your power goes out, important appliances and electronics no longer work: the refrigerator that holds most of your food can no longer keep items cold, you lose heat, and the laptop or computer that you need to work from home may no longer be available to you.

It is only sensible to have a generator on hand during such times. As using one is easy to take for granted, we should make sure that we take the appropriate precautions when operating a generator. This includes checking to see what model generator you have, because there are many models that may emit unacceptable levels of deadly carbon monoxide.

The models of generators and what they mean for you

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently published a report that analyzes how effective two industry voluntary standards are at mitigating portable generator carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning hazards, and that reviews the compliance of these standards in the marketplace.

The report found that while there are generators in the marketplace that adhere to either one standard or the other, there were not enough generators available to the public that followed either standard. All of that means that there are some generators out there that mitigate an effective amount of carbon monoxide created by the generator, but that the majority do not effectively eliminate the amount of CO that is produced.

The CPSC staff analyzed more than 140,000 simulations of 511 portable generator fatalities in CPSC’s databases. The analysis found that generators compliant with the UL 2201 standard would avert nearly 100 percent of the deaths that occurred with the current, non-compliant generators, with 3 survivors predicted to require hospitalization and 22 survivors predicted to seek medical treatment and being released. The required analysis also found that generators compliant with the PGMA G300 standard would avert nearly 87 percent of those deaths, with 55 survivors predicted to require hospitalization, and 34 survivors predicted to seek medical treatment and then be released. The CPSC staff report concludes that the CO hazard-mitigation requirements of UL 2201, which include a combination of shut-off technology along with reduced CO emissions, are more effective than those of PGMA G300.

While both standards are effective at eliminating a great deal of CO emissions, the UL 2201 standard is more effective than the PGMA G300 standard. What matters is that when you are buying a generator, be sure to check whether that model of generator follows at least one of these industry standards, or the consequences could be deadly.

The dangers of generators and CO emissions

If you are unaware of the dangers of CO, then you are not alone. The threat of carbon monoxide poisoning is unknown to far too many people, and this ignorance can lead to dire consequences. “Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that has the potential to cause sudden illness and death based on how much of the gas is consumed.” If consumed in great quantities, a person is at risk of suffering health consequences such as loss of consciousness, permanent brain damage, or even death.

Carbon monoxide poisons hundreds of thousands of people a year. Just last year, when a wave of freezing weather hit Texas, more than 450 CO reports were made to the Texas Poison Center Network. That was just in the period of a week. It shows how many generators likely did not follow the industry standards.

Carbon monoxide blocks your red blood cells from carrying oxygen all throughout your body. This can lead to tissue damage and necrosis (death), incurable brain damage, and possibly death. It has been called “the silent killer” because symptoms are difficult to notice until it is too late.

When it comes to generators, the real danger often happens when using a generator indoors. It can only take a few minutes for it to kill someone due to the exhaust containing enormous amounts of CO. If you are inside while a generator is running, the greater your chances are of breathing in a significant amount of carbon monoxide.

In some cases, you can sue the manufacturer, seller, or distributor of the generator in question if the product does not come with the appropriate warnings labeled somewhere on the generator or in its instruction manual. You will have to prove that the CO poisoning came from the generator itself, show how the carbon monoxide traveled from the device to the person, and confirm it is the CO itself that caused the injury or death. When it comes down to it, have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. These will warn you if the CO levels in your home are dangerous to your health.

If you or a loved one has suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, talk to our Huntsville attorneys today. At Martin & Helms, we are strong fighters against carbon monoxide poisoning caused by negligence, and want to make sure that you secure appropriate compensation for your injuries. To schedule a consultation to discuss your case, call us at 256-539-1990 or fill out our contact form. We also have offices in Decatur, and proudly serve clients in Athens, Madison, and throughout North Alabama.