Are Portable Generators Dangerous?

If you’ve ever wondered whether portable generators are safe, you’ll be relieved to know that they can meet or exceed CPSC safety standards. We’ve also discussed Voluntary standards and the CPSC’s rule. While we don’t recommend that you buy one for personal use, it’s important to consider how it can affect your health. Below, we’ve outlined some of the main safety concerns and hazards associated with these appliances.

Safety concerns

Despite the fact that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that consumers follow instructions when operating a portable generator, many people are still misled by the manufacturer. Listed below are the top safety concerns with portable generators:

Portable generators have several safety concerns, including a risk of electrical shock and fatigue. While using one, it is important to operate it away from work areas and wear hearing protection. It is also important to learn how to operate one properly to avoid injury and damage to the environment. A portable generator can also be dangerous when connected to a breaker box, which may electrocute a lineman attempting to restore power to the home.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has identified a significant risk of injury from CO emissions from portable generators. The Commission has proposed rules limiting the amount of CO a generator can emit to prevent injury to the public. Under the proposed rule, portable generators powered by handheld spark-ignition engines or one-cylinder Class II SI engines must not exceed 75 grams of CO per hour. In addition, generators should be labeled as portable or stationary if the engine size is under 75g.

Although the Commission’s prototype technology addresses the CO hazard, the first line of defense should be education. The commenter suggested that CPSC conduct a human factors analysis to determine whether the mandated warning for CO is effective. CPSC officials should also work with the CPSC on the human factors analysis of its CO warning. Ultimately, the CPSC must determine whether the mandated warning is effective, and if so, what modifications are needed to make it work better.

Voluntary standards

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently warned the manufacturers of portable generators that they’re in danger of causing carbon monoxide poisoning. This gas kills more than 60 people each year, and voluntary generator standards don’t address this serious problem. In 2012, the CPSC issued a letter to generator manufacturers warning them that voluntary generator safety standards weren’t nearly enough to protect consumers. They have threatened to issue mandatory generator safety standards in response.

While voluntary standards have been in place since the 1950s, safety standards remain unmet. For instance, the EPA’s staff determined that warning labels on portable generators were not strong enough. They recommended that generators display the UL certification mark to alert users when the CO concentration is high enough to cause harm. Although this warning label isn’t a consensus standard, the EPA still recommends manufacturers to display it.

CPSC rule

The CPSC has recently issued a rule on portable generators. According to the rule, the product must be labeled and must comply with a standard set by the Commission. This regulation addresses portable generators that do not produce combustion-based emissions, such as CO. The rule does not address CO poisoning risk, but it does require that portable generators bear a label that identifies their gas composition.

New generators must display a “Danger” label. This warning informs consumers of the danger posed by carbon monoxide (CO). CO has no odor and is especially dangerous to use indoors. The death toll from CO poisoning involving generators has risen steadily in recent years. According to the CPSC, 64 people died of CO poisoning after using generators in 2005, including many after major storms. During the first four months of 2006, CPSC documented 32 deaths of people exposing themselves to CO.

Deaths from portable generators

Using a portable generator during a natural disaster can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. According to a study, 64 people died from CO poisoning related to generators in 2005. The majority of these deaths occurred following major storms. The CPSC is aware of 32 CO-related deaths between October and December 2006.

Several factors may contribute to fatalities. Portable generators are more prone to causing a fire when used outdoors. While the CPSC website lists several incidents involving generators, it does not list the causes of these deaths. The CPSC reports that these deaths are sporadic, and that there are often fatal incidents that occur with no obvious reason. As a result, a full list of potential causes of portable generator deaths is important.