Carbon monoxide prevention tips

November 9, 2011 Editorial Staff
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Is your home’s indoor air safe?

Is the air your family breathes safe? It’s an importantquestion, because some air pollutants-like carbon monoxide andradon-can’t be seen or smelled. Now that fall is here, your familywill be spending more time inside.

Follow these precautions from the New York State Energy Researchand Development Authority (NYSERDA) to secure your home and giveyour family peace of mind.

Carbon Monoxide

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced fromburning any fuel. Where does carbon dioxide come from? Examples areunvented kerosene or gas space heaters, wood or coal stoves, faultygas or oil furnaces, poorly ventilated or dirty fireplaces-eventobacco smoke.

In high doses, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, weakness,nausea, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and even death.Here are a few ways you can prevent this dangerous gas fromaffecting your family’s health:

•Install a carbon monoxide detector. Similar to a smoke alarm,this device will signal a carbon monoxide issue in your home.Regardless of whether you’re using a battery or electric model,test the device regularly to make sure it’s fully operational.Change batteries yearly, when you check your smoke alarm.

•To ensure proper ventilation, hire an expert to inspect andclean all vents, chimney flues, gas water heaters, furnaces andfireplaces.

•Regularly inspect all fuel-burning appliances, includingfurnaces, ranges, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and free-standingroom heaters. Look for signs of excessive wear or faultycombustion.

•If you are installing combustion equipment-like a woodstove orgas fireplace logs-in your living space, be sure the area iswell-ventilated to reduce the risk of gas exposure.

•Select gas appliances such as ovens, space heaters, fireplacesand barbecue grills that do not require the use of a pilotlight.

•Never use an oven to heat your house.

•Never leave your car running in an attached garage.

Natural Gas Leaks

Like carbon monoxide, natural gas is colorless. However, utilitycompanies are required to give the gas a unique odor similar tothat of rotten eggs for easier detection. Natural gas can bereleased through faulty or malfunctioning appliances, so it’simportant to maintain all appliances properly to reduce the risk ofexposure to air contaminants. Follow these tips to take theappropriate safety measures:

•Make sure that qualified contractors install, inspect, repairand perform annual maintenance on all natural gas equipment andappliances.

•If you notice a fuel leak in your home, such as propane orheating oil, call your supplier right away and vacate yourhome.

•If your contractor detects a leak through odor or using anelectronic gas leak meter, the contractor should immediatelydetermine how severe the leak is and take the appropriateactions.

•Don’t move gas appliances, even slightly, as this couldcompromise the gas and vent connections.

•When using a gas stove, make sure the gas flames do not expandfurther than the bottom of the pot you are using. This can be adangerous fire hazard.

•Keep your burners clean for greater energy efficiency andsafety.

•Do not store flammable products near your gas appliances.

Having a comprehensive home energy assessment conducted by anaccredited Home Performance contractor can also help ensure thatyour equipment is operating as efficiently as possible and you areliving in a healthy, safe environment. To find out how you canqualify for a free or reduced-cost whole house energy assessment inNew York State, go to

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