Here in Florida, storm season means it’s just a matter of time until your home or business loses power for a few hours, or even several days. That’s why thousands of area homes have generators on the ready throughout the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1-November 30 and peaks in September each year. But while they’re certainly convenient, generators also can be dangerous, say product liability attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell & Harrell. A new study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards of Technology and the University of Alabama, demonstrates that readily available technology can significantly reduce deadly carbon monoxide emission rates on some portable gasoline-powered generators, giving consumers more time to detect a problem and escape. That emission control technology already is used on motor scooters and small motor cycles and works by using closed-loop electronic fuel injection and a small catalyst. Test results showed that the change boosts consumers’ escape time (the time between onset of obvious symptoms and incapacitation) from eight minutes to 96 – more than an hour and a half – for people who are in their garage with the generator running. Those inside the home while the generator runs in the garage have an even greater timeframe to escape the potentially deadly fumes. As manufacturers decide whether and when to modify their products according to the CPSC study results, personal injury attorneys in Jacksonville urge consumers to take safety precautions, noting that carbon monoxide from portable gasoline-powered generators kills more than 70 people each year. In fact, generators are to blame for the majority of non-fire CO deaths associated with consumer products, accounting for 43 percent of CO deaths, compared to 33 percent for heating systems. If you plan to use a gas-powered generator this hurricane season:
- Place generators as far as possible from your home;
- Never run your portable generator inside your home or attached garage, or near windows or vents;
- Install CO alarms on each level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Note that 93 percent of CO-related deaths involving generators happen in homes without CO alarms;
- Have an escape route planned and practice it frequently, particularly as winter or the storm season begins;
- If you suspect a CO leak, get out of and away from your home and call 911 immediately.
If you or your family are injured because of a faulty gas-powered portable generator, contact the personal injury attorneys at Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell by calling 800-251-1111.