NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reached out to Fox 8 for help in its investigation into whole-home generators. A series of Fox 8 reports revealed how some generators were causing carbon monoxide issues in homes following Hurricane Ida.
An agency whose mission is to save lives or spare injuries by making consumer products safer, the CPSC now plans to take a closer look at whole-home generators.
“In this case, we are investigating incidents that occurred following Hurricane Ida,” said Patty Davis, press secretary for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fox 8 reported extensively on the problems some homeowners faced in the days after the storm.
“I don’t want people to go through what we went through that morning,” Lynn Moore recalled.
Moore and others said carbon monoxide — a deadly, odorless gas — seeped into their homes from those generators.
“We could have all died from something we didn’t even realize could happen,” Moore said.
In the weeks and months after Ida, our stories aired and local fire departments reached out to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to report what happened.
“When we get a report of an injury or a potential injury, that’s when we step in,” Davis said.
Moore said she received a call from investigators with the commission, asking about her generator and its placement. A certified installer had put in her unit and it met parish safety code.
“They asked how close it was to the house and I explained to them it was 18-20 inches, no more than 24, and you could tell that they were just so surprised that it was that close to the house,” Moore said.
An investigator also reached out to Fox 8, asking for help tracking down one of the people in our Combating Carbon series of reports. The investigator said the commission was looking into the generators to see how they can make them safer for consumers.
“We’re at the information-gathering stage at this point,” Davis said. “When we do receive reports from fire departments, from consumers on any type of incident, the potential for an issue related to a consumer product, that’s when we want to step in. We want to look more closely to see (if there are) hazard patterns. Are there ways that this potential hazard can be addressed? And that’s what we’re doing in this case.”
Davis said the investigation is in its infancy, but that anyone using a generator this hurricane season should have a working carbon monoxide detector in their home. Our stories already led to a change in Louisiana law, requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all homes sold or leased, starting in January 2023.
“Had you not started the stories, the word would not have gotten out,” Moore told Fox 8. But Moore sees this federal agency’s investigation as another step forward in trying to save lives.
“I asked them point blank, ‘What are you going to do about this?’” Moore said. “You know, we’ve had bills passed, we’ve had codes passed, we’ve had news releases, attorneys, what are you going to do? And she said, ‘We are the federal government. We can make changes.’”
Davis said the agency’s investigation “could potentially lead to a recall,” or to recommendations about new standards.
“So, it’s important to let us know if there’s an issue,” she said.
Davis said it’s critical for investigators to have an accurate account of how many people experienced such problems with whole-home generators. To file a report, click on this link: www.saferproducts.gov.
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