Even outdoors, generators pose risks

2:17pm, April 10, 2007

A portable generator is frequently the culprit in domestic carbon monoxide poisonings—even when the device sits outside the home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Florida Department of Health collected data from 10 Florida hospitals on people diagnosed with unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings between August and October 2004. Four major hurricanes pounded the state during that period, causing power outages.

The researchers identified 167 people treated for nonfatal poisonings. The illnesses stemmed from 51 incidents, 46 of which involved portable generators.

Using medical records and interviews, the team found that 22 of the generators were outside the house and garage. The generator was in the garage in 15 incidents, inside the house in 7 of them, and in an unknown location in 2 others. Outside generators were, on average, 7 feet from a dwelling.

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