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

23 Jan 2013

Reading, PA – During extremely cold weather, UGI strongly urges consumers who use fuel-burning heating systems to take proper precautions to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. A malfunctioning heating unit can spread CO through your home, especially if your unit has not recently been serviced. Carbon Monoxide safety is particularly important during the winter when homes are closed tightly.

Additionally, UGI strongly advises that consumers be aware of the significant safety risks of using appliances such as ovens, ranges and dryers to heat their homes (or to provide supplemental heat to their homes). Misuse of appliances in this manner can cause an extremely dangerous fire hazard, and can spread (CO) throughout a consumer’s home.

In addition to natural gas appliances, common sources of CO include leaking chimneys; unvented, fuel-burning space heaters (especially if malfunctioning); and indoor use of a charcoal barbeque grill.

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
  • Those living in the home are suffering from flu-like symptoms or are unusually tired.

CO poisoning can be fatal.  Fresh air and prompt medical attention are important if you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning. To prevent CO poisoning, you should:

  • Make sure appliances are installed by a qualified technician and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes.
  • Have the chimney 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.
  • Have the heating system inspected and serviced if you have not already done so.
  • Confirm appropriate level of ventilation and air circulation for safe operation, particularly if you have made modifications to your home that reduced air flow near appliances.
  • Install a CO detector/alarm on each floor of a home, especially near every separate sleeping area.  CO detectors have a limited operating life.  Check the manufacturer’s instruction for related information and replacement considerations.
  • Change or clean furnace filters regularly.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages.

Customers are reminded to contact 911 or UGI immediately if they small gas inside or outside of their home or business at 1-800-276-2722 (for CPG customers, call 1-800-652-0550). There is no charge to respond to and investigate a gas odor. Natural gas is odorless, so a chemical, known as mercaptan, is added to help with detection. The smell is similar to that of rotten eggs.

UGI Utilities’ headquarters is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.  The utility serves more than 648,000 natural gas and electric customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania.  Additional information about UGI is available at ugi.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/ugiutilities or Twitter at twitter.com/ugi_utilities.