Chicago Conference Warns of Generators and Carbon Monoxide Deaths in Winter: a Real Danger for Illinois and Indiana

Chicago Conference Warns of Generators and Carbon Monoxide Deaths in Winter: a Real Danger for Illinois and Indiana

The weather forecast for Indiana and Illinois this Christmas holiday week is much nicer than the big winter storm that brought so much snow and ice just a few weeks ago, and it’s expected that we won’t see another big winter storm till late next week. Which means that people in our area may not be needing those popular portable gas generators now, or not as much. However, many throughout Indiana and Illinois are going to be depending on those portable gas generators for heating their bedrooms soon enough.

In fact, these things are so popular that there was a big Safety Event in Chicago recently focusing upon the dangers of these portable gas generators and how to prevent people in Indiana and Illinois from dying because of using these heaters.

Chicago Conference on the Dangers of Portable Generators and CO Poisoning in Illinois and Indiana

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) held a conference called “Warm Up to Life Safety” in Chicago, dedicated to fighting against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from heaters by increasing knowledge and awareness here in our area. It was held on December 19, and as NEMA pointed out in its own blog post on the event, a clear example of how prevalent this problem is for this part of the country, the same morning as the conference there were 12 people in an Illinois apartment building a mere 15 minutes from the conference site that narrowly missed fatal poisoning from a carbon monoxide leak in their apartment building, as one person had the knowledge to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning (nausea, dizziness) and called 911 for help.

Among those who spoke at the Chicago conference was the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where he announced a new CPRC report that portable generators have been found in federal studies to be related to over 85% of the non-fire carbon monoxide deaths associated with engine-driven tools. Portable generators run on fuel; the exhaust from these fuel-burning engines contains invisible and toxic carbon monoxide fumes. Often, people turn to these fuel-based heating sources when there are power outages.

Lots of people use these generators in their homes, where their families live – eat, sleep, watch TV. The CPRC study found that 74% of the generator/CO deaths happened in someone’s home.  The CPRC warns that these fuel-burning generators should never be used inside a home, even if there is ventilation, because the danger of CO fumes being inhaled by people in the house is too great.

The CPRC is working with the companies that make portable generators to make them safer by changing how the products are constructed. Federal regulations require that there be warnings placed on these generators to let people know the risks involved in using them.

Better to Avoid Tragedy from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning than to File Claim Based Upon Product Liability or Wrongful Death

However, regardless of whether you have a new generator or an older model, labels or not,any fuel-burning engine used to heat a home risks the people inside with fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Faulty alarms may be the basis of a lawsuit, and CO leaks from the apartment next door may be the subject matter of a wrongful death claim, but the hope is that these tragedies can be avoided.

Make sure you have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm in your home or apartment or condo, and that these alarms are working. And if you or a member of your family is experiencing these symptoms of CO poisoning, then call for help and exit the dwelling — better safe than sorry, and people can fall victim to carbon monoxide fumes within minutes.

From the Centers for Disease Control, here are the most common symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death
  • People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.

carbon monoxide, CO poisoning


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