HOUSTON – January 6, 2010 –Temperatures are forecasted to plunge and CenterPoint Energy anticipates no issues that would prevent natural gas customers from staying warm for the duration of the forecasted frigid temperatures.
“We have more than enough natural gas to meet the anticipated demand due to heating needs; in fact our system is designed to operate in much lower, sustained temperatures than are forecasted,” said Tal Centers, vice president of Engineering and Technical Services for CenterPoint Energy. “However, we want to remind customers that there are some important safety tips they need to follow so they can stay safe while staying warm.”
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety:
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 CO, a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating.
When breathed, CO combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen. CO 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.
To stay safe:
• Have your gas central heating unit checked annually to make sure the heat exchanger is not cracked or rusted and that the burner area is clean.
• 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. Make sure the fireplace damper is open at all times when using gas logs.
• Crack windows slightly if using unvented space heaters.
• Consider buying a CO detector as another line of defense against CO poisoning. CNP 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).
If you smell gas:
• Leave immediately and tell others to do the same.
• Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones), or anything that could cause a spark.
• Go to a safe location and call CenterPoint Energy. Do not use e-mail or the Internet to contact the company about a leak, and never assume someone else has reported the leak.
• CenterPoint Energy's gas leak phone number is 888-876-5786.
• Alert your neighbors. CenterPoint Energy checks suspected natural gas leaks at no cost to customers.
• Never try to repair a natural gas leak yourself. Leave all repairs to a trained technician.
For more information on natural gas safety, visit CenterPointEnergy.com/safety.