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Taking a Road Trip? Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Before You Hit the Road, Learn About RV Generator Safety

Springfield, Ill., Oct. 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — You may hit the road to enjoy a little time away or maybe to take in a car race or football game. If you are traveling there in an RV or converted bus, keep in mind using generators to power them can turn deadly.

The CDC estimates at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and some of those occur in RVs, campers, trailers and converted buses.

“Although many people are aware carbon monoxide poisoning can occur in homes, they may not stop to consider it can happen in any enclosed space,” said Molly Hall, executive director of Safe Electricity, “including a zipped tent, recreational vehicle or converted bus.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when fuel is burned. Along with generators, devices or appliances that produce the invisible gas include vehicles, small engines, grills, fireplaces, camping stoves, gas ranges and furnaces. CO can build up indoors or in any enclosed space and it poisons people or animals who breathe it in.

In 2018, one racing fan died and another was hospitalized after they were exposed to CO in a converted bus at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The CO poisoning was caused by a gasoline-powered generator that was not properly ventilated.

Safe Electricity provides these tips to keep in mind while enjoying your RV or other mobile digs, whether your generator was factory installed or you are using a portable one:

  • Inspect the exhaust system on the generator before using it and make sure it is in good working order.
  • Do not operate a generator with a damaged exhaust system, one that needs repairs or has other problems.
  • If you are using a portable generator, always make sure the exhaust is directed away from the camping area and at least 20 feet away from a home (or RV), door or window.
  • Listen for problems (e.g. surging sound) when starting your generator, especially if it has been inactive for several weeks.
  • Run your generator at least once a week. This decreases moisture in the system and lubricates the engine seals and components to prevent carbon buildup.
  • Properly maintain your generator.
  • Do not use it at night.
  • Make sure your camper, RV or other enclosed space has a battery operated CO detector designed for recreational (RV) use. Test it every time you use your RV and replace the batteries at least twice a year.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include but are not limited to nausea, dizziness, vomiting, intense headache, sleepiness and grogginess/inability to think coherently. For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

CONTACT: Ann Augspurger
Energy Education Council - Safe Electricity
[email protected]