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Consumer Product Safety Commission on Portable Generator Safety

In a staff report from 2005 specific to Portable Generator Safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission eloquently articulated the issue with running portable generators in wet weather. Their research concludes that a driver for using portable generators in places that cause CO poisoning is directly related to people attempting to keep their portable generators out of wet weather.

This report was key in our research and resulted in our creating the term "Weatherproof Your Power™".

Section 8 of the report provides a definitive list of portable generator safety concerns and possible mitigations. Number 1 on the list? Weatherization.

The report is available online. To summarize:

"Portable generators that consumers typically use are not constructed to permit safe use in damp conditions because their electrical components and connections are not protected. They typically include electrocution warnings that instruct consumers to keep the generator dry and out of damp conditions (TAB H). However, power outages that can lead to the use of a generator are commonly caused by weather conditions, such as ice storms and hurricanes, that result in damp conditions which may linger after the initial period of precipitation has passed"....

...."Since staff believes that generators should never be used indoors because of the risk of CO poisoning, there is an inherent conflict in the, actions consumers should take in order to avoid both an electrocution hazard and the CO poisoning hazard when the generator is to be used in damp conditions. To address potential consumer confusion from these conflicting instructions, CPSC staff examined issues related to making portable generators weatherproof (TAB J). Staff determined that to be weatherproof, a generator would need, as a minimum, a raintight or rainproof enclosure, in-use weatherproof receptacle covers, and ground fault protection for all receptacles."

Further, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Acting Chairman Robert Adler announced that portable generators were linked to more than 85 percent of non-fire CO deaths associated with engine-driven tools, or 800 out of 931 deaths, during the 14-year period from 1999 through 2012. This is due to improper use in an enclosed garage, basement, or home. The CPSC has since partnered with the Portable Generator Manufacturers Association to promote the Take it Outside™ consumer awareness campaign.