Natural Gas Safety
Understanding carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a dangerous by-product created when any fuel (natural gas, oil, coal, wood, kerosene, etc.) is burned without the right mixture of oxygen. Generally, when a fuel is burned – like natural gas in a furnace or gasoline in a car – it produces carbon dioxide, a harmless gas. We also give off carbon dioxide every time we exhale, as our bodies burn energy. However, without enough oxygen, burning fuel produces carbon monoxide (one oxygen molecule instead of two in carbon dioxide). When we breathe in carbon monoxide it steals our oxygen to create a balance, which is why it is dangerous.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It can make you very sick and can even be fatal. It can make you feel like you have the flu. You may feel dizzy, sleepy, headachy or nauseous. The cure is to get good, fresh air circulating through your body. If you have these symptoms and think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside and get safe. Make sure everyone else also gets out and call 911.
Prevention is very important. Make sure all fuel-burning appliances have good air circulation and that all vents, flues, and chimneys are clear. Have them inspected regularly. Never run a car inside the garage or use outdoor grills or appliances inside. Also install a carbon monoxide detector in your home for safety (different than a smoke alarm which is also an important safety feature). Following these guidelines and knowing the causes and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will help keep you and your family safe.