(February 26, 2022) — An agency of the federal government is cracking down on portable generators, which according to ProPublica can emit as much carbon monoxide as 450 cars and which kill an average of 80 people in the U.S. each year, sometimes RVers. A relatively small number of reported incidents involved a generator being used properly outdoors.
This is breaking news. We’ll follow up next week.
The action comes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) two months after an investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. RVtravel.com reported on this issue, how it applied to RVers, in December.
“Almost all generator engines emit very high rates of carbon monoxide (CO), and when consumers use portable generators in or near enclosed areas, the immediate and surrounding environment can quickly become fatal for occupants,” noted the CPSC. Most of the generators involved in fatal CO poisonings in CPSC’s databases were gasoline-fueled.
Portable generators that are permanently installed in recreational vehicles, typically motorhomes, or boats are outside of CPSC’s jurisdiction, even though the models may be the same as those falling within the scope of this project. Stationary generators have use patterns that differ from portable generators and are covered by a different voluntary standard.
GENERATOR MANUFACTURERS, ProPublica notes, say that their products are not dangerous when users follow the safety guidelines in instruction manuals, which include keeping the machines outside, away from doors and windows. But safety advocates say those instructions aren’t always easy to follow, because the machines can’t be operated in rain or snow.
The CPSC report concluded that voluntary changes implemented by some manufacturers have reduced the risk to consumers, but not to the degree that industry officials had promised.
Deaths of RVers from misuse of generators often occurs when the RVs are camped in close quarters (like NASCAR events, where they are squeezed together in infields) and the exhaust sends carbon monoxide into a neighbor’s living quarters. Three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning last July at a Michigan country music festival. A generator parked too close to their trailer was ruled the cause.
If you would like to learn more, read the CPSC’s 104-page report here.