August 12, 2016
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Use Portable Generators Safely to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

DHS issues reminder after exposure sickens dozens of people in Madison

In the wake of a mass carbon monoxide exposure last weekend, Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ (DHS) public health officials are reminding residents of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of generators.

On August 6, nearly 130 people reported to Madison area hospitals following exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. The Madison Fire Department identified the source of the carbon monoxide as a gas-powered generator used inside a building by the wedding band.

“Portable generators are the source of many carbon monoxide exposures we see,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, Chief Medical Officer, DHS Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health. “It’s important to remember that generators cannot be used inside any enclosed area. Generators should be set outside, at least 20 feet from a home, tent, camper, or other structure.”

In addition to using generators safely, health officials urge residents to install carbon monoxide detectors in homes, boats, cabins, campers, and anywhere carbon monoxide might be present. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

For more information about generator safety, visit:

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit: