On May 1, 2018 Sophia’s Law went into effect in the state of Minnesota. While this law is an awesome step in carbon monoxide safety, the picture of little Sophia shows the immediacy with which more carbon monoxide legislation is needed.
Blue Guard TechnologiesSetting New Standards of Safety
May 2018 by Cheryl Stetter
Carbon Monoxide Prevention System and coCO
Last summer, we heard several disconcerting stories of police officers in Ford Explorers experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. One company is working to change car safety and is opening our eyes to the technology and innovation that is possible today.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Cars
In the 1970’s the catalytic converter was introduced to cars to lessen the toxicity of emissions from the tailpipes of cars on the road. In part this was to tackle high levels of air pollution, and to promote safer roadways.
While deaths from carbon monoxide (CO) in cars decreased significantly, accidental death and injury due to CO buildup in cars is still sadly taking lives.
Blue Guard technologies is working to change this
Not only will the car engine be shut off, their technology has the potential to integrate with a smartphone, open garage doors, alert emergency contacts, and can be used in vehicle theft prevention.
Furthermore, the technology can be applied to any form of fuel fed combustion devices, not just car engines. Portable generators and home furnaces can also be fitted with the CO Poison Prevention System so that the device is shut down when high CO levels are detected.
Reading the patent application for the CO Poison Prevention System, one wonders why this technology does not yet exist. The patent application provides technological descriptions for use within a car, generator, and home furnace, and how their technology can interface through a smart phone to provide alerts.
The CO Poison Prevention System starts with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled CO Sensor. In the car, the CO sensor communicates with a base unit and a fuel pump inhibit relay. When elevated levels of CO are present, the fuel pump inhibit relay is opened cutting off fuel to the car and, therefore depriving the engine of fuel and shutting it off.
The system for the generator is similar where the fuel line inhibit valve is opened to shut off the generator. The CO Poison Prevention System can be used in both gas or oil burning furnaces. A connection between a wifi enabled CO sensor and a Wi-Fi enabled smart switch will open the furnace emergency shutoff circuit, preventing further production of carbon monoxide.
Smarter Cars, Smarter Homes, & New Standards
Blue Guard Technologies is not just creating a safety feature they are developing a way for us to begin communicating with the products that we depend on. Many of us are controlling our thermostats from our phones, turning our lights on with our Alexa, or starting our cars through our cell phones. Blue Guard is taking the next step in Smart Car and Smart Home technology by introducing the element of safety!
Right now, I can control my Nest thermostat from my phone, but it cannot stop my furnace from developing a blockage that fills my home with CO. I may be able to remotely start my car from inside a restaurant on a cold winter evening; however, that app cannot protect me if the exhaust system in my car is damaged and CO builds up.
Blue Guard is addressing our safety and well being in a new and unique way and making our devices ever smarter. At the same time, they are opening the door for people to demand safety features as standard features in the technology we use every day.
Working for Change
New Safety Standards for Portable Generators
APRIL 2018 – Over the past year, new carbon monoxide (CO) safety standards for portable generators have made headlines. The US Consumer Product and Safety Commision (CPSC), the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association (PGMA), and Underwriters Laboraties (UL) have been working to improve standards, warning labels, and guidelines for generator use. This article will provide a basic overview of the positive changes that have taken place over the past several years to reduce CO poisoning and deaths caused by the misuse of portable generators. Here a few important dates, events, and documents in the evolution of generator safety.
Safety standards develop 2003-2009
December 6, 2006 – The CPSC approves an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to address the safety and standards of portable generators. This ANPR proposes several strategies for improving generator safety such as substantially reduced CO emissions and automatic shutoff devices. In addition to warning labels, other suggestions are addressed such as weatherization, theft deterrence, and noise reduction to encourage generators to be used outdoors and away from homes.
May 14, 2007 – The CPSC required generators to contain warning labels with infographics. These are the labels that we see today that state a generator CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES…NEVER use indoors, and only use OUTSIDE away from windows.
2003 – 2017 – The CPSC annually reports on the number of deaths from non-fire related carbon monoxide exposure including generators.
2009 – PGMA is formed by the leading manufacturers of portable generators in North America to develop safety standards and promote education in generator safety.
March 4, 2009 – UL Standard 2201 is established as the first safety standard for portable generators. At this time, UL addresses the need for warning labels and weatherproofing, to ensure that generators could be safely used outdoors in wet conditions without posing an electrocution risk.
Advancements to significantly reduce risk of CO poisoning 2015 – Present
2015 – PGMA begins a ‘Take it Outside’ campaign to promote proper use of generators, outside and away from homes.
June 1, 2015 – The ANSI Board of Standards approved the ANSI/PGMA G300 as a voluntary National Standard for all portable generators. This standard included information on construction, testing within different weather conditions, operating instructions, safety features, and warning labels.
March 17, 2016 – PGMA hosts a Technology Summit at which CPSC staff, manufacturers, and independent CO experts present engineering solutions to reduce the CO hazard from portable generators. 
At this summit, different technologies were brought forth as possible solutions for improving generator safety. Among those were a CO shutoff that could shut down the generator when CO levels reached a certain level, as well as lowering emissions of carbon monoxide for portable generators. Less popular ideas were presented such as proximity sensors that would alarm if the generator was placed indoors. 
November 21, 2016 – The CPSC issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) for safety standards for portable generators. This follow-up to the ANPR originally issued in 2006, called for lower emissions for portable generators. Other suggestions such as CO sensors and alarms are discussed, but attention is mostly given to lowering CO emissions. In March of 2017, the CPSC allowed for individual professionals to comment on the NPR and to offer additional data and information.
September 27, 2017 – Ann Marie Buerkle, who was named acting chairman of the CPSC in February 2017 and permanent chair in July, is quoted stating she favors a voluntary standard for Generator companies as opposed to mandatory standards, since a voluntary standard could be enacted more quickly. She also mentions both a reduction in carbon monoxide emissions and an automatic shut off system as possible safety features.
October 26, 2017 – The PGMA announces its proposal to revise the ANSI/PGMA G300 Standard first established in 2015 by incorporating an auto-shutoff feature that will shutdown the generator when carbon monoxide reaches a certain level around the generator.
January 3, 2018 – The ANSI/UL 2201 is adopted. This standard calls for both a reduction in CO emissions, and the use of an automatic shutoff if CO exceeds a certain level around the generator. UL describes the auto-shutoff as a secondary safeguard for protection against the buildup of carbon monoxide.
March 15, 2018 – Ryobi brand generators sold on-line and at Home Depot (Model RY907022FI) receive ANSI/UL 2201 certification.
IN CONCLUSION– With the first ANPR issued by the CPSC in 2006, we begin to see the developments that would take place over the next twelve years. The use of warning labels became standard, testing and weatherization improved, and most recently the implementation of automatic shut-offs and lower CO emissions. As of March 2018, the updates to the G300 standard have not been made public, and only time will tell how the generator manufacturers will embrace these changes.
It is clear that opinion has wavered between lowering CO emissions and creating automatic shut-offs for generators. It is important to note that all the standards addressed by UL or by the PGMA are voluntary. In fact, many standards adopted by industries begin as voluntary standards that later become mandatory due to government regulation. The next chapter of this story will show which standards the generator manufacturers will adopt, what engineering strategies are employed, and eventually which measures truly become successful in preventing accidental injury.
 CPSC Approves ANPR to Make Portable Generators SaferRulemaking Aims to Address Rising Death Toll, December 6, 2006. https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-approves-anpr-to-make-portable-generators-saferrulemaking-aims-to-address-rising-death
 CPSC, Portable Generators; Final Rule; Labeling Requirements, January 12, 2007. https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/95159/pglabeling.pdf
 Presentations from the PGMA Technical Summit, March 17, 2016. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kclnhbwzpmga4ub/AABWLY5Xut_rVyMs65vUBt1_a?dl=0
 CPSC Staff Presentation at PGMA Technical Summit: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/PGMAsummitCPSCstaffpresentation_2.pdf
 CPSC Notice of Advance Rulemaking, Safety Standard for Portable Generators, November 21, 2016. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-11-21/pdf/2016-26962.pdf
 CPSC Notice of Opportunity for Presentation of Comments, February 1, 2017. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/01/2017-02061/portable-generators-notice-of-opportunity-for-oral-presentation-of-comments
 Ledyard King, USA Today, September 27, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/27/citing-florida-deaths-nelson-grills-regulator-slow-response-generator-safety/709461001/
 Susan Orenga, PGMA, October 26, 2017. http://www.pgmaonline.com/pdf/PGMAUpdateReleaseFinal102617.pdf
 Low Carbon Monoxide ANSI/UL 2201 Portable Generators. https://www.ul.com/inside-ul/portable-generator-standard/