Carbon monoxide remains a real threat when it comes to our modern lives, even more so with the growing portable generator market. Thanks initially due to Y2K fear, sales have remained strong in the United States as home owners seek to provide some protection from weather related outages. Portable generators can conveniently provide living areas with vital electricity and heat, especially in the cold winter months or when electric utilities perform planned or unplanned cutoffs.
Portable generators differ from standby generators, which are designed to be weatherproof and switch on automatically in the case of a loss of power. Most standby generators are permanently installed outside of the home in a well ventilated area by professionals. In this way, the byproducts of combustion including carbon monoxide are safely kept away from indoor areas where they can collect to unsafe levels.
Generators can provide life saving power in emergency situations, however when used improperly they can also pose some serious risks. Improper use of portable generators can lead to electrocutions, fires, electrocutions, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous of these and is responsible for about 75 deaths each year in the United States. In fact, research suggests that since portable generators use is at an all time high, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators actually has the potential to cause more deaths than the natural disasters that prompt their use.
Luckily, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention agencies prescribe portable generator usage guidelines. They advise consumers to:
- Operate portable generators outside only
- Never use inside a home or garage
- Keep them at least 20 feet away from the home
- Operate facing away from all structures
Additionally, they urge installing battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms near every sleeping area and testing them frequently. This step is the most effective preventative measure against all sources of carbon monoxide, not just portable generators. Carbon monoxide can is odorless, colorless, and can kill in minutes. Levels as low as 32 parts per million have been shown to be fatal. Carbon monoxide being lighter than air will easily and quickly diffuse throughout a room and into other living spaces.
The best protection against carbon monoxide is to carbon monoxide detectors near all sleeping areas as soon as possible. Give us a call and we’ll help you protect your home from unsafe carbon monoxide levels.