As temperatures drop, another threat to safety is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO poisoning can occur as a result of a poorly ventilated heater or a CO leak from another source. Symptoms can include nausea, headaches, paralysis and even death. Remember the following tips to help prevent CO poisoning:
- Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas.
- Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
- Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
- Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
- When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas to have the condition corrected.
- Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
- Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.
- If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from CO poisoning, call 911 immediately.