HOUSTON – December 22, 2009 – ‘Tis the heating season and CenterPoint Energy encourages all natural gas customers to make sure their appliances have been checked by a qualified heating and air conditioning technician to ensure their safe operation.
Any fuel-burning equipment or appliance, including wood stoves, fireplaces, space heaters, barbecue grills, furnaces, water heaters, boilers and ranges, has the potential to produce carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating.
When breathed, CO combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen. Carbon monoxide can be produced by incomplete combustion, often the result of improperly adjusted or poorly-vented appliances. Annual check-ups of these appliances help ensure proper and safe operation of these types of appliances and equipment.
If you are in a room with operating gas equipment and experience a headache, followed by dizziness and nausea, you may be experiencing CO poisoning. Get fresh air immediately, and if symptoms persist, you may wish to seek medical attention.
To prevent CO buildup:
• Follow manufacturers' operating instructions properly for gas heating equipment.
• Do not use stovetop burners or ovens to heat a room since they are not designed for this use.
• Make sure to follow the blue flame rule. Natural gas flames should burn blue except natural gas fireplace logs which burn orange to have a more realistic wood burning look.
• Crack windows slightly if using unvented space heaters.
• Consider buying a CO detector as another line of defense against CO poisoning. CenterPoint Energy recommends buying one with an audible alarm and continuous digital display; make sure it is tested to the national standard for residential CO detectors (UL2034 or IAS NO. 6-96).
For more information on natural gas safety, visit CenterPointEnergy.com/safety.