Last year at this time, the Pacific Northwest was experiencing its coldest winter in 24 years; this year the East coast is experiencing the cold “bomb cyclone.” Luckily, we can observe from our warm, safe homes. Safety is the top priority of your natural gas company, and like the tango, it takes a partner to be safe. You are our safety partner.
As your partner, we want to give you the facts on carbon monoxide (CO) and prepare you should you ever experience a CO incident. Fact: CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is produced by burning wood, propane, charcoal, natural gas or by letting a gasoline engine or generator run in an enclosed space.
Fact: CO poisoning is caused by improperly ventilated appliances or engines. The enclosed space may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels. That’s why you should never operate a gas or briquette grill, a generator or propane heater indoors.
Fact: Warning signs are similar to having the flu, such as dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. A clue would be if more than one person is becoming ill at the same time since the flu takes a few days to be passed from one to another. If symptoms begin in one space and go away soon after leaving the area, that may be carbon monoxide poisoning.
Prevention: Install a carbon monoxide detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep vents and chimneys open when burning, and make sure they are properly vented, especially if you have had any construction or roofing done. Start your car only after you open the garage door and move into the driveway before closing the door.
Prevention: Just like with your fire alarm, you need to make sure things are maintained and ready to serve you. Once a year, maybe when you replace the batteries in the fire alarm, ask your utility about getting a check-up on all your fuel-burning appliances. Keep your fireplace in good repair and get the flue cleaned once a year.
Action: If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, remove everyone including pets from the area and head to fresh air immediately. Contact your gas utility, call 911 and wait for clearance before entering your home.