The chemical properties of natural gas make it a clean fuel source. However, those same properties make it potentially dangerous for consumers if their natural gas appliances are not properly maintained. One of the dangers of poorly maintained or improperly used appliances is carbon monoxide poisoning. If a faulty furnace does not burn natural gas properly or is not vented correctly; carbon monoxide can begin to build in the home. When a person breathes carbon monoxide, their brain and organs are robbed of the oxygen necessary to function properly, and they can become sick and incapacitated quite quickly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu without a fever. Those experiencing these symptoms should get out of the house and call 911, the fire department, or emergency medical services immediately.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning; here are a few tips:
- Install a carbon monoxide detector. These devices work similar to a smoke detector, only they measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
- Have appliances that use natural gas inspected by a qualified repair person once a year.
- Inspect the vents, flues, and chimneys of all gas water heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces to ensure proper ventilation of exhaust.
- Never use an oven to heat the house. This can damage the oven and cause carbon monoxide to be released into the home.
For more information regarding the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to protect your family see The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm.