CO Deaths Continue to Rise

Just in time for the cold weather, we have new information on carbon monoxide (CO) deaths associated with the use of consumer products.

In 2008 — the latest year for which we have complete data — there were about 190 unintentional non-fire CO-poisoning deaths associated with consumer products under our jurisdiction. The product associated with most of these deaths? Portable generators.

As more people use portable generators, the numbers of CO-related deaths have increased.  In 1999 there were seven generator-related CO deaths. In 2008 the number of deaths reached 86. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 percent.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer that strikes within minutes. You can protect yourself with a few simple safety rules:

  • Install working CO alarms in your home. Make sure the alarm is battery-operated or has a battery-backup so it works during a power outage.
  • Keep all generators outside of your home, away from doors and windows.
  • Never use a generator in a garage, basement, crawl space, shed or on a porch.

Most CO-related deaths happen from November through February — the cold months. This makes sense, of course. In colder months, we use our furnaces and fuel-burning space heaters. When we lose power during storms, more and more of you power up your portable generators.

CO deaths also occur when charcoal is used indoors. Just like generators, keep burning charcoal outside, away from the house.

Let’s see if we can work together to drop the number of carbon monoxide-related deaths.


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