How Portable Electric Engine Generator Is Killing Innocent People In Nigeria

A Petrol Engine Electric Generator
Portable Electric Engine Petrol Generator

We live in a country where electric power supply is erratic or epileptic in nature. Some folks make a joke that the national supply is a standby option.
This means that majority of Nigerians depend on the alternative power supply to serve their power needs. The most common are the electric engine generator set of which diesel and a petrol engine are on the top of the chart.

All electric engine generators have similar working principle except that the level and rate of emission of gaseous waste is different. Between petrol and diesel engine, petrol engine has been shown to emit more gaseous waste in a short time than a diesel engine. The reason why petrol engine is still Nigeria favourite lies in so many advantages it has over the other such as low maintenance cost and ease of care.

For a regular reader of news in the country, it is not an uncommon story to hear that an entire family was wiped out from the surface of the earth in just one night. Further investigation most time trace the cause to this popular 'i better pass my neighbour' generator that was running throughout the night. One may wonder how did it happen after all so many Nigerians have their engine running throughout the night like that. Well, the engine that is a lifesaver in some occasion has suddenly become a killer. How?

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The working principle of the generator is very simple which involves a basic formula. The fuel enters the carburettor as gas, which in turn mix with air from the environment through the air filter. The gaseous mixture rushes into the burning chamber, which gets it heat (ignited) by the spark from the spark plug. The resulting explosion in such a tight chamber leads to a force large enough to drive the piston down in one full cycle. This will, in turn, drive the electric coils in the generator providing electricity for your home. The hot gas generated after the explosion is expelled out through the exhaust at the point of explosion, where the combustion of gaseous mixture took place. For combustion to take place, the three basic requirements must be met which are:
  1. Air (oxygen)
  2. Heat (spark from spark plug)
  3. Fuel (petrol)
At the right combination of all these variables, the combustion normally produces gases that are not dangerous to human health such as carbon dioxide. In other cases when the variables are not present in the right proportion, an incomplete combustion of gases takes place leading to the production of gases like carbon monoxide.

No matter how engineers try, they have not been able to produce that engine that is able to supply the right spark, the right quantity of air with the right flow of fuel in engines. Yes, they have improved compared to some years ago but have not been able to achieve that. That means engines will continue to generate carbon monoxide as one of their end product..This occurs in all engines including your car and motorcycles engines.

To know engines that will generate carbon monoxide or not observe the flame from such engines. Yellow flames indicate incomplete combustion while the blue flame is an indication of a complete combustion. Take for example most local stove, as well as charcoal fire, are a great source of incomplete combustion with yellow flame while a cooking source that generates little or none is the gas cylinder with a blue flame.

Carbon monoxide is a carbon compound that is sometimes termed a suicide gas. This is because many folks have deliberately inhaled the gas to their own graves. Accidental inhalation is very common because the gas is colourless, odourless, and tasteless with no irritation of any part of the body. This makes it more deadly especially when one is asleep.

The reason why charcoal fire does not lead to death is that most usage is within a short period of time and most likely outside the house. Carbon monoxide reacts with oxygen to produce harmless compounds in the atmosphere when they are generated from things like a stove. However, many deaths have been recorded with generator used within the country. This is because most of the victims use it close to their house or even inside just because of fear of the unknown. This allows the gas to circulate right inside the house thereby leading to death. Let us see how it happens.

For a healthy person, there is the process of inhalation of oxygen, which goes to the lungs. Blood from the heart comes to the lungs pick up the oxygen there. They travel back with the oxygen to the heart before the heart finally pumps the blood with oxygen to various parts of the body. The various parts and organs take nutrients from the blood including the oxygen to complete their own life activities. They, in turn, give the visiting blood their waste product they no longer need such as carbon dioxide. This is sent to the heart. The hear try’s to remove the waste from the body by pumping that blood to the lungs to deposits the carbon dioxide there for onward removal from the body. The lungs accept it and are breath out as exhalation.

However, in situations whereby carbon monoxide enters the lungs with oxygen, it binds with the blood instead of the oxygen in the lungs. This is because the carbon monoxide has more binding power (affinity, strength) to the pigment (haemoglobin) in the blood that carries oxygen to the various parts of the body. This binding is stronger than the one between haemoglobin and oxygen. They both travel to a various part of the body and back without supplying the organs and tissues oxygen. This leads to oxygen deprivation for the organs and tissues and at the end lead to death.

It most times, it happens during night-time. Symptoms include things that do not wake the person up to do the needful. It instead makes the person weak and tired the more.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poison

  • Light headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abortion
  • Cardiac abnormalities.

The rate at which it happens depends on the quantity consume and duration of exposure.


  • Remove the person from the zone or area that contains the gas
  • Remove the engine producing the gas
  • Allow fresh to blow the person if it is not severe
  • Take to a nearby hospital for administration of oxygen. In severe cases, pressurised oxygen is administered.
Take Action
  • When you notice an entire family became ill all of a sudden
  • Symptoms reduce away from home
  • A generator engine is running close by.
The most severely or easily affected Sufferer range from
  • Infants
  • Unborn
  • Anemia
  • Those with heart-related diseases.

Prognosis Is Difficult

  • Long-term brain damage like memory loss
  • Death.

Rules To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poison

  • Never run an engine in a close confinement
  • Never use in or close or around your home
  • Always open windows and doors for proper ventilation
  • Position the engine some distance away from the room so that the gas does not come in through the open windows and doors
  • There are carbon monoxide alarm clock which can be installed in cases whereby the gas goes above a set limit within
  • Follow the generators manufacturers’ instruction on proper usage of the engine. This helps to reduce the amount of carbon emission. For example running a generator with the fuel tap partly lock and on will definitely reduce the amount of fuel getting to the carburettor which I turn cause incomplete combustion producing more carbon monoxide as by product.
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