I haven’t blogged about power outages and carbon monoxide poisoning in too long. It is winter here. The perceived risks comes from malfunctioning furnaces, not power outages and carbon monoxide. But I live in Wisconsin and Chicago. We get typical winter blizzards, not Atlantic Storms. I know that Atlantic storms mean carbon monoxide poisoning. Every time there is a major hurricane, there is a spike in the number of electric generator related carbon monoxide poisonings. People operate portable generators either inside their house or garage, or too close to their house and garage. For a list we made last spring on these events, click here.

Sometimes these stories don’t make it to the news media at the time of occurrence because the storm itself clogs the headlines. Sometimes, they don’t make the headlines because they only involve people getting sick, not fatalities. For everyone who dies of carbon monoxide poisoning from a portable electric generator, there are more than 50 people who are poisoned by carbon monoxide and survive See Hampson, CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM PORTABLE ELECTRICAL GENERATORS:

Acute, severe CO poisoning from portable electric generators is common in the United States, likely affecting an estimated 4,000 individuals annually, occurring predominantly in residential settings.

Four thousand cases of poisoning from one simple cause: generator manufacturers who don’t care how dangerous the machines they make are because they continue to delude themselves that these machines will be used inside basements, garages or too near dwellings.

That delusion is proven wrong thousands of times a year. It was proven wrong in suburban New York City when 10 people were hospitalized when they lost power because of the winter storm that swept across the East Coast. See https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/north-castle/2018/03/07/north-castle-generator-home-sickens-people/403362002/

There could be many more such cases that aren’t making the news or the victims don’t know they are getting poisoned. One might think that if you don’t know you are getting poisoned then, what is the big deal? By the time a person becomes clearly ill from carbon monoxide, their COHb levels are well above 10%.

COHb levels are the percentage of carbon monoxide in the blood. When carbon monoxide is in the blood, oxygen isn’t as it takes the place of oxygen. Thus, cells become starved for oxygen.

By the time a person is stuporous, as in the North White Plains, New York poisoning, blood levels are likely above 25%. Research has shown that more than 40% of those who COHb levels exceed 10% are at risk of long term problems from carbon monoxide poisoning, including brain damage. Statistically, 4 of the 10 survivors in North White Plains are likely to be disabled by this generator.

Poorly Designed Generators Cause Carbon Monoxide

It is time to stop the connection between power outages and carbon monoxide poisoning. The solution is to force the generator manufacturers to make their machines as low on carbon monoxide as automobiles. Many of these manufacturers, such as Honda, also make engines that have electronic fuel injection and catalytic converters. A modern engine can eliminate nearly all of the carbon monoxide risks. But the Consumer Products Safety Commission has been trying to mandate this change since 2002. Politics keep standing in the way of saving lives. At this point, only lawyers are going to force change. If you or your loved one has been harmed by an electric generator, it is time to do something. Talk to a lawyer about a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Generator manufacturers have the responsibility to make their products reasonably safe. These generators kill 75 people a year and hospitalize 4,000. A product that has these known risk factors is not safe. Government isn’t going to stop this. Only litigation can.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

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  1. […] flashed with the story of 10 hospitalized because of a Winter Storm Quinn carbon monoxide hazard. For yesterday’s blog about the Quinn carbon monoxide poisoning in North White Plains, New York… At the center of that story was an electric generator. If you have been reading this blog, it is […]

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