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CenterPoint Energy issues important carbon monoxide safety tips
Stay safe and healthy by preventing carbon monoxide exposure this heating season

MINNEAPOLIS – November 21, 2011 –CenterPoint Energy would like to remind the public of important safety tips to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.
CO is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating. When inhaled, CO combines with the blood preventing proper absorption of oxygen, which can cause illness and even death.

There are several ways to tell if CO is present:
• Physical symptoms of CO exposure can resemble the flu causing 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
• Stuffy or stale indoor air.

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:
• Purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display and install it no more than 10 feet from each sleeping quarter, as required by law. Fuel-burning appliances, equipment 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 (most manufacturers recommend annual check-ups). 
• 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.
• Never leave a fire smoldering in a fireplace.
• Check frequently for visible signs of problems, such as high indoor humidity and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent. 
• 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. When natural gas equipment is properly operated and maintained, it usually will not produce CO.
• Provide adequate combustion air for all your appliances.
• Be certain all fuel-burning appliances and equipment are properly vented to the outdoors.
• Keep vents, fresh air intake(s) and chimneys clear of debris or other obstructions and check for vent pipes that have gaps, leaks, spaces or are rusted through.
• Never attempt to heat a room with a natural gas range, oven or clothes dryer

For more information about natural gas safety, visit www.centerpointenergy.com/besafe or call 612-372-4727 or 1-800-245-2377.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total nearly $21 billion.  With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. In Minnesota, CenterPoint Energy is the state’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serving about 800,000 customers in 260 communities. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.