MINNEAPOLIS – October 06, 2016 – Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure incidents increase during the winter months and CO is often called the silent killer. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that when inhaled, enters the blood stream preventing proper absorption of oxygen, leading to illness and even death. According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, municipal fire departments across the country respond to more than 60,000 CO incidents each year.
“Natural gas furnaces provide heating to thousands of Minnesotans safely and efficiently; however, home heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel inadequately can be sources of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Additionally, poorly maintained fuel-burning equipment and appliances can cause fuels to burn incompletely and accumulate,” said Doug Boudreaux, district director of Gas Operations for CenterPoint Energy. “There is an even greater risk of accumulation when a home is tightly sealed and not properly ventilated.”
Important safety tips about how to recognize the symptoms of and avoid CO exposure
- Flu-like symptoms including headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness that disappear when a person breathes fresh air.
- Unusually high indoor humidity with persistent heavy condensation on walls and windows and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent can be an indication of CO.
- Stuffy, stale or noticeably poor indoor air quality.
- If you suspect CO exposure, leave the area immediately taking your pets with you and tell others to do the same. Once you are safely away from the area, call 911 to report the suspected CO incident.
Treatment for CO exposure is fresh air or oxygen. Severe exposure requires medical attention. Do not return to your home or building until the source of the problem is discovered and corrected To prevent CO build up:
- As required by Minnesota law, purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display and install it no more than 10 feet from each sleeping quarter.
- Never operate an automobile, lawn mower or any combustion engine, barbecue grill or similar equipment in an enclosed area such as your home, garage, tent, fish house, trailer or place of business, even with the door open. Any pollutants in the air from the garage, such as a car engine running, can travel into the structure and CO can accumulate.
- Fuel-burning appliances and combustible engines all produce CO that can reach dangerous levels if improperly operated or maintained. Have fuel-burning equipment regularly checked by a qualified technician according to manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Never leave a fire smoldering in a fireplace.
- Equipment that uses natural gas should produce a clear blue flame. A yellow or orange flame may indicate a qualified technician should check for a potential problem with the equipment.
- Provide adequate combustion air for all your appliances.
- Keep vents, fresh air intakes and chimneys clear of debris or other obstructions to vent to outdoors and check for vent pipes that have gaps, leaks, and spaces or are rusted through.
- Never attempt to heat a room with a range, oven or clothes dryer
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns a 55.4 percent limited partner interest in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 7,400 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 140 years.