Natural gas is one of the most widely used sources of energy in our country today — and one of the safest. However, care must be taken when natural gas is used in the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that’s produced whenever any fuel such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn natural gas are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if your appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result.
Have your heating system, water heater and any other natural gas, oil or kerosene-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window.
Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house — even if you leave the door open.
Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
Don't heat your house with a natural gas oven.
A CO detector is a device that identifies the presence of dangerous carbon monoxide levels in the air to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
CO detectors should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
Choose a detector that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Test your detectors once a month.
If your CO detector sounds, immediately go to a fresh air location and call 911 or your local fire department.
Keep in mind — a CO detector is not the same thing as a smoke detector. However, detectors that can pinpoint both CO and smoke are available for purchase.
CO poisoning symptoms
Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated or faint. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea and mild headaches and may have longer term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause.