Underwriters Laboratories, Consumer Product Safety Commission Launch Generator Safety Campaign As Hurricane Season Approaches

Northbrook, IL - With the official start of hurricane season a week away, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is teaming with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and retailers to educate the public about portable generator safety.

At a Washington, D.C., press conference, the CPSC announced that a record number of deaths associated with generators occurred during last year's hurricane season.

"Public safety has been the mission of UL for more than 112 years," said Keith Williams, UL president and CEO. "We believe in public-private partnerships with interested groups, including CPSC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, manufacturers and retailers, to advance consumer awareness and to address product risks. We must all do our part to educate consumers on the proper use of generators, precautions that they can take to stay safe and the consequences of improper use. CPSC's initiative today marks an important milestone in this effort."

CPSC recently helped develop new warning labels for portable generators that communicate the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if the generator is misused. The label conveys that using a generator indoors can kill a person in minutes, and uses pictures and symbols to demonstrate proper and improper placement of the generator.

UL incorporated these warning labels into a new set of stringent safety requirements for portable generators. This Outline of Investigation for Portable Engine-Generator Assemblies, UL 2201, was published in April and addresses other fire, shock and casualty hazards.

Increased use in residential settings and inclement weather prompted UL to include heavy rain and corrosion tests and require GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection against electric shock.

The UL Outline will enable generator manufacturers to have their products evaluated against these requirements. The generators that meet these requirements can carry the UL Mark.

With the requirements now established, UL will continue following the American National Standard Institute's (NIST) consensus process to officially designate the Outline of Investigation as an American National Standard.

In addition to improving the safety of products, UL also provides consumers with relevant safety tips. Though more information is available from http://www.ul.com/consumers, consumers should keep the following tips in mind when operating a generator:

  • Place the generator as far away from the home as possible, and never in the house, a garage or near doors and windows. Being mindful of these guidelines helps ensure that the carbon monoxide generated through use will not be pulled into the home where it can poison, and kill, consumers.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and cannot be seen, these alarms are your only "warning" signal that poisonous gases may be in your home.
  • Utilize proper electrical connections. Use listed outdoor extension cords when connecting to the generator to run power back to the house. Also, pay attention to the number of appliances that a generator is designed to power and do not exceed that number.

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