Reading, PA – As cold weather moved into the region over the weekend, several communities reported incidents of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning associated with improperly maintained heating equipment. UGI urges residents who use fuel-burning heating equipment to have them checked by a qualified professional, and be aware of the signs of CO in their homes and take appropriate actions.
A malfunctioning furnace, boiler, water heater or stove can emit CO into your home. In addition, renovations to a home that place a furnace into an enclosed space without proper ventilation may create improper air flow and produce high levels of CO.
As part of the fuel-burning appliance check, homeowners are also urged to check the flues and chimneys associated with these appliances. Blocked or improperly lined chimneys and flues are a common source of CO inside of homes. Residents should contact a qualified professional if they suspect they may have a blocked or improperly lined chimney.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is a by-product of the combustion 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 fatal. Individuals 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 detectors/alarms 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 more than 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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