Letters

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Safety-minded take on generators is still dangerously misinformed

I was horrified to read of the tragic deaths of four Massachusetts residents, apparently from carbon monoxide from a portable gas generator running in a basement (“In Maine, a day for celebration turns to horror,” Page A1, July 19). As a commissioner at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, I was troubled by a comment, in your report on this tragedy, from a neighbor who “operates his generator in his garage, in a well-ventilated area.”

This safety-minded but misinformed comment reflects how much more we need to do to make consumers aware of generators’ inherent dangers. A garage is never a safe place to run a generator, even with the door open.

Portable generators can produce 1,500 times as much carbon monoxide per hour as a car. Even in an open garage, fumes can easily infiltrate the house or turn the garage into a gas chamber.

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The commission’s experts recommend keeping generators at least 20 feet away from any occupied structure.

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We’re working with industry to make generators safer, but the strongest protection is an informed consumer, using the generator properly — outside.

Joseph P. Mohorovic

Commissioner

US Consumer Product

Safety Commission

Bethesda, Md.