December 9, 2010 (San Diego)--With the cold weather and chilly nighttime temperatures, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is reminding customers that safety should be a top priority in cold-weather heating.
“As we continue to see temperatures drop, it’s essential that home furnaces are inspected,” said Caroline Winn, vice president of customer services for SDG&E. “Gas appliance maintenance is very important and should be a priority when thinking about heating your home this winter season.”
As a reminder, gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility. However, SDG&E will perform appliance safety checks upon request. To schedule an appointment, call SDG&E at 1-800-411-SDGE (7343).
Carbon monoxide safety tips
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. When incomplete combustion occurs, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can potentially lead to carbon monoxide poisoning to a family.
The early stages of carbon-monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.
Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide:
• A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
• An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
• Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.
What to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home:
• If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
• Evacuate the premises and call 911.
• Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
• Contact SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
• Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional.
Winter heating safety tips
SDG&E offers customers the following recommendations for safe and efficient operation of their natural gas furnace:
• Never use your outdoor barbeque, range or oven to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose. If used indoors they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Vacuum and clean regularly around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
• Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check the filter monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and clean or replace, if necessary.
• Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
• When installing a new or cleaned 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.
Save money while staying warm
There are simple no cost measures customers can do to save money while staying warm this season:
• Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep winter gas bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced.
• Lower the furnace thermostat three degrees to five degrees, health permitting. This can help save up to 30 percent on winter bills. Turn the furnace off when away from home.
• Open curtains and/or blinds during the day to let the sun help warm your home; close them at night to keep the warm air in.
• Seal gaps around windows and doors using insulating tape or caulking strips to eliminate drafts.
• Hot air rises; adjust ceiling fans to blow air down.
For more information on operating your gas appliances safely, please visit SDG&E’s website at www.sdge.com or call 1-800-411-SDGE (7343).