As the winter heating season approaches, O&R reminds its customers that proper maintenance of natural gas appliances by qualified professionals helps prevent illness, and even death, related to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is invisible, odorless and tasteless. It is formed by the incomplete burning of fuels such as heating oil, wood, gasoline, natural gas, propane and charcoal.
Natural gas-powered appliances in the typical home can range from: heating units and clothes driers to water heaters and stoves — and even emergency generators.
When heating units or motors are not working properly, or if exhaust fumes and chimneys are not properly vented outdoors, carbon monoxide can accumulate in the home, garage or any enclosed space.
To prevent a carbon monoxide problem, make sure that a plumber or qualified heating contractor inspects and maintains your furnace and other natural-gas powered appliances each year.
The dangers of CO can be further reduced by the installation of approved carbon monoxide detectors, which can provide early warning of accumulated CO before it reaches a dangerous level.
Breathing even small amounts of carbon monoxide can result in headaches, dizziness and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately open the windows in your home and seek medical attention. Prolonged exposure can result in more severe illness, or even death.
The signs of a CO problem are stale, stuffy air and high indoors humidity, fallen soot from a fireplace chimney or furnace flue and no draft in the chimney or flue.
To do your part to reduce carbon monoxide poisoning never:
- Use a gas oven or range to heat a room.
- Leave a vehicle or gasoline-powered equipment running in a garage, even with the garage door open.
- Operate a portable electric generator outdoors near air intakes to a building.
O&R urges its customers to always put safety first. Anyone who smells natural gas should leave the area immediately and call O&R’s emergency gas hotline at 1-800-533-LEAK (5325) or 911.