Reading, PA – As colder weather blankets the region and residents turn up their thermostats, UGI urges customers to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and to take steps to avoid a build-up of CO inside their homes and work spaces.
UGI recommends residents follow these basic steps:
- Ensure that natural gas appliances are properly maintained. A malfunctioning furnace, boiler, water heater or stove can emit CO into a home. In addition, restricted or damaged ventilation or exhaust equipment, including a blocked chimney, can produce high levels of CO.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed inside the home or workspace, are working properly, and have fresh batteries. 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 instructions for related information and replacement considerations.
- Check to make sure that both internal and external vents are free from obstructions such as clothing and furniture inside; and dirt, snow or ice outside.
- Ensure that equipment rooms or utility spaces are properly sized and provide appropriate levels of ventilation and air circulation around heating equipment and appliances to ensure safe operation. Enclosing furnaces and water heaters in small rooms during remodeling or renovation can reduce air flow and create a potentially unsafe situation.
UGI also urges residents to be aware of the signs of CO in their homes. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is a by-product of the improper combustion of fuels such as wood, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, natural gas and propane. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Physical 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 residents should:
- If heating equipment stops working or if you lose electric power, never use an oven, grill or other fossil-fuel burning device inside your home to provide heat.
- 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, etc.
- Black stains on the outside of chimneys or flues could mean fuel burning appliances are not working properly and that pollutants are leaking into the home. Contact a qualified contractor to check both the appliances and the chimney or flue to ensure their safe operation.
- Change or clean furnace filters regularly.
UGI Utilities has headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves more than 670,000 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.