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UGI Encourages Consumers to Be Aware of the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

06 Feb 2014

Reading, PA – With winter’s wrath still holding Pennsylvania in its grip, UGI strongly urges consumers who use fuel-burning heating systems to take proper precautions to prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. A malfunctioning heating unit or other fuel-burning appliance can spread CO through your home, especially if the appliance has not recently been serviced.

In addition to fuel burning appliances, a common source of CO includes blocked or improperly lined chimneys. A significant amount of snow and ice has accumulated in the region over the past month. This can cause a blocked chimney, and residents may need to contact a qualified professional if they suspect this is the case.

Other sources of CO can include unvented space heaters, the indoor use of a charcoal barbeque grill, and the use of generators in an enclosed space.

Carbon Monoxide safety is particularly important as outside temperatures drop, homes are closed tightly and electric outages occur. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results from the incomplete burning of fuels such as wood, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, natural gas or propane.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Signs within a home that an appliance may be malfunctioning and producing CO include:

Condensation on walls and windows

  • House plants dying
  • House pets becoming sluggish
  • Chronic odors from a malfunctioning appliance
  • Residents in the home suffering flu-like symptoms or feeling unusually tired.

CO poisoning can be fatalIndividuals who think they might be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately seek fresh air and prompt medical attention.  To prevent CO poisoning, you should:

  • Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the batteries powering them are fresh. CO detector/alarm should be located on each floor of a home, especially near every separate sleeping area.  Be aware that CO detectors have a limited operating life.  Check the manufacturer’s instruction for related information and replacement considerations.
  • Never use a generator, grill, stove or other fossil fuel burning device inside a home, garage of other enclosed area. Never heat a home with an oven if your electricity goes out.
  • Use extra caution when using space heaters. Never place them on top of furniture, near water, or near anything that may catch fire, such as drapes, bedding, furniture, etc.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
  • Make sure appliances are installed by a qualified technician and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes
  • Have the heating system inspected and serviced if you have not already done so.
  • Have the chimney or appliance direct vent cleaned and inspected for leakage, debris blockages or a buildup of creosote. If you see black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue, it could mean pollutants, like carbon, are leaking into your home.
  • Confirm appropriate levels of ventilation and air circulation around the appliance to ensure safe operation, particularly if you have made modifications to your home that reduced air flow near appliances.
  • Change or clean furnace filters regularly.

 UGI Utilities has headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves 660,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland.  Customers interested in additional information visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.

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