Natural gas is non-toxic. Under normal operating conditions, it burns cleanly, producing heat, carbon dioxide and water vapor.
But if natural gas isn’t burning properly or the appliance is malfunctioning, it could create a hazard. Though rare, either situation could result in an excess amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
Warning signs to watch for
Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless and poisonous, and caused by malfunctioning equipment or appliances that don't vent properly. CO deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.
UL-approved carbon monoxide detectors can immediately alert you when a high level of CO is in the air. Other physical signs to look out for include:
- A yellow flame instead of blue on gas equipment and appliances.
- Soot around the front of a furnace or water heater.
- A furnace that constantly runs, but doesn't warm up the house.
- The appearance of moisture inside of your windows.
- You or others experiencing headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or confusion.
CO prevention tips
Tips to keep carbon monoxide in check
Here's what you can do:
- Install UL-approved carbon monoxide detectors around your home.
- Ensure all vents and chimneys are properly installed and inspected regularly.
- Look for improper connections, visible rust or stains on vents and chimneys.
- Keep chimneys and vents free of debris, such as leaves, creosote and animal nests.
General safety tips
Safety tips for everyday scenarios
Because CO can be caused by different sources, be sure to follow these safety tips:
- Always grill outdoors in an open space.
- Never sit in a parked car with the engine running and the windows closed.*
- Always provide proper venting when you operate kerosene or propane heaters indoors.
- Never use the gas range or oven for home heating.
* Vehicle exhaust is responsible for more than half of the unintentional CO deaths each year.
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